Microsoft China steals code from Plurk?

Regular readers here will remember we mentioned Microsoft China’s innovative service of 140 char Microblogging.   In an allegation from Plurk, another established Microblogging service in China, it is claimed that Microsoft’s “latest innovation” has taken code from the Plurk project.

Watch out, code thief about? Have a look at what Plurk has to say about Microsoft's latest "innovation"

This is the second code issue in as many months with Microsoft being alleged to have infringed on the GPL with code in their software.  As usual it doesn’t take long for the “Microsoft blames” statements to arrive and in this instance it was in the form of blaming 3rd party developers for the “dodgy” code.  The question I had at the time was, if Microsoft don’t have control of their own code (in that they were not aware) what else lurks inside their products which we may not be aware of.

I digress, this article is about Microsoft and alleged using of Plurk code.  There is an interesting link to this, which can be found here and this site actually compares line by line the code of the two projects.

At the present time Microsoft has yet to comment.  Who will they blame? (if anyone).  Whilst Microsoft at present time appears to be silent, Plurk is not so:

If this was just a case of visual inspiration gone too far, we could probably have lived with it. We would have taken the time to reach out to Microsoft, get colour on the matter and try to amicably resolve it. That’s not the case here. This is something far more sinister. On closer inspection, we found that MUCH of the codebase and data structures that Microsoft’s MClub uses are identical snapshots of our code.

and you can visit the Plurk blog here.  Which also says:

We were first tipped off by high profile bloggers and Taiwanese users of our community that Microsoft had just launched a new Chinese microblogging service that looked eerily similar to Plurk. Needless to say we were absolutely shocked and outraged when we first saw with our own eyes the cosmetic similarities Microsoft’s new offering had with Plurk. From the filter tabs, emoticons, qualifier/verb placement, Karma scoring system, media support, new user walkthroughs to pretty much everything else that gives Plurk its trademark appeal, Microsoft China’s offering ripped off our service.

Maybe we should run a book for the odds on who Microsoft will blame?

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

8 Comments Add yours

  1. openbytes says:

    In my opinion if Microsoft thought they could get away with blaming them (whoever they are) then they would.

  2. Someone in China is ripping off ideas? Heavens! Say it isn’t so!

    The code doesn’t look so unique, either. Copyrights require that the work be a “unique expression” and fixed in a media. That’s in the USofA, of course, and who knows what goes in China?

    You cannot copyright an idea, says the law, and “look and feel” are not sufficient for unique expression says the US Federal courts back when Lotus tried to sue Brown Bag Software and Apple tried to sue Microsoft. So look and feel rip-offs (as long as you leave the trademark logos out of the picture) are not against the laws here. Or there, probably, since China hasn’t been know for protecting IP in the past.

    Strange as it seems there hasn’t been any definitive rulings in the courts regarding source code copying. There has been a lot of noise over GPL and such, but that wasn’t about copyright violations in the form of source copying. It has been on mostly peripheral issues such as not posting the original source on a website.

  3. openbytes says:

    Quote “someone in China is ripping off ideas?”

    Yes, its alleged that Microsoft China is ripping off ideas/src.

    Quote ” Or there, probably, since China hasn’t been know for protecting IP in the past.”

    and Microsoft never saw it as a big deal in the past IMO. Let us not forget Bill Gates comments? “if they are going to steal it we want them to steal ours?” or what about “get them sort of addicted we will work out how to get a return in the next decade?”

    Quote “Strange as it seems there hasn’t been any definitive rulings in the courts regarding source code copying. There has been a lot of noise over GPL and such, but that wasn’t about copyright violations in the form of source copying.”

    So thats alright then? Remember we are not talking about some “bedroom software house” or a kid trying to make a buck. We are talking about Microsoft.

    So what are you trying to say? “Microsoft blames Plurk since China is no country to speak on IP infringment, so why shouldn’t MS use the code?” Is that what you are saying?

    If you want a comparison, check out the links…

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