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Microsoft Social Networks

Microsoft Steals Code From Microblogging Startup 315

Posted by kdawson
from the did-they-think-nobody-would-notice dept.
Readers davidlougheed and TSHTF both let us know that microblogging service Plurk reported today that Microsoft China not only copied look and feel from its interface, but also copied raw code from Plurk's service, when it released its own microblogging service called MSN Juku (or Mclub). In instances of the code released on the Plurk blog, the layout, code structure, and variable names were very similar or in some cases 100% identical. The story has been covered in multiple media sources. The software theft is hypocritical, given Microsoft's past threats against Chinese software piracy."
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Microsoft Steals Code From Microblogging Startup

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  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @03:41AM (#30441348) Homepage Journal

    the Chinese portion of anything is going to deny it's theft and call the original coders liars. The Chinese are great about this, the government mindset is embedded in the younger citizens - such as "We do not filter our Internet access, we have a few routing issues."

    Yeah, right.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @03:59AM (#30441424)

      Troll? Seriously? Has anyone seen the way younger Chinese react to anything even resembling the mildest criticism of China or Chinese people or the Chinese government? Dude! They're pricklier than a porcupine.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:09AM (#30441468)

        Chinese moderators.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MrNaz (730548) *

          It never ceases to amaze me just how holier than thou Americans are vis a vis the Chinese. FD: I've never been to either country. I have, however, traveled extensively, and I know many, many people from both places. I am also familiar with the foreign policy of both nations, and pay attention to news coming out of there and in the world generally.

          I think I am in a position to say that the US is in no position to be pointing fingers at other countries,m criticizing their behavior in any respect.

          - China has t

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            "Cut with the "CHINEZE ARE TEH EVILZ!" crap."

            Just because there are multiple evils, doesn't make one of them less evil.

            • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob&hotmail,com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:36AM (#30443860) Journal
              Just because there are multiple evils, doesn't make one of them less evil.

              Right,

              And the evil in this case, since everybody seems to have forgotten, is Microsoft.

              Microsoft stole Plurk's design and code. Not the Chinese. Not the Americans.

              This business with a long history of unethical behavior and misappropriation is what we should be discussing here, not two nations of very diverse people.

              • by lePooch (1553929) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @02:31PM (#30447722)

                Microsoft stole Plurk's design and code. Not the Chinese. Not the Americans.

                Nice try. Microsoft outsourced its coding to a Chinese company, THEY stole the source code and design. Quoting from Ars Technica [arstechnica.com]:

                The debacle with Juku is an indication that the software giant needs to either stop outsourcing its various small projects (unlikely to happen anytime soon), or come up with a better way to cross-check its code.

                This is a CHINESE malaise, not a Microsoft one. Half of the huge Chinese websites out there rely on stealing content [arstechnica.com] and code theft [mashable.com] to launch. Blaming Microsoft because they are the largest target is trendy, but misleading.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Americans are pretty much 100% in support of the policies of the Chinese government. That's is why we Americans give their country over 300 billion dollars a year in financial support.

            Surely we wouldn't give them so much money if we opposed them??? Right???

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              America's government is pretty much 100% in support of the policies of the Chinese government. That's is why America gives their country over 300 billion dollars a year in financial support.

              Surely we wouldn't give them so much money if we opposed them??? Right???

              Fixed that for you.

            • by Knightman (142928) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:57AM (#30442866)

              [Citation needed ]

              And here I thought that the Chinese and some oil-nations propped up the USA economy by buying bonds and treasure bills from the USA.

              A year ago USA needed to borrow 2.8 billion USD a day to keep the economy from tanking. The total gross debt of 2008 where 9.98 trillion USD which is 70% of the GDP.

              Anyone who thinks that China needs financial support from the USA needs a reality check and to stop listening to biased news.
              USA is in deep dodo financially.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:56AM (#30441718)
            Sorry, you are wrong. I'm neither American nor Chinese, but I have spent significant time in both countries. Yes, some things are bizarre in the US considering the country's history of being recipient of religious fugitives from Europe. For a country that celebrates freedom so much, there is a remarkable level of control, censorship and restrictions. HOWEVER, in the US you may mostly express criticism against government and judicial system without being put in jail for up to 15 years. Save Guantanamo, people are not dragged away to torture, incarceration and sometimes murder without trial. The lack of respect for the most basic human rights in China is amazing.

            This once I choose to post anonymously to protect myself and my Chinese visa.

            • Save Guantanamo, people are not dragged away to torture, incarceration and sometimes murder without trial.

              That's like saying "if you ignore the trees, there is no forest here".

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Toonol (1057698)
            - China has the Great Firewall.
            - The US has illegal wiretaps.
            - China subjugates Tibet and the Uygur and threatens to annex Taiwan.
            - The US subjugates every nation in Latin America, and simply depopulates [wikipedia.org] places that it decides it wants.
            - China's police often behave like little more than Jackboot thugs.
            - Anyone seen footage from how the authorities handled Katrina? (Unedited footage I mean, not the sanitized stuff for TV).
            - China polices its culture pretty closely with state organizatio
            • by Pieroxy (222434) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @05:27AM (#30441860) Homepage

              Well, while I mostly agree with your post, Guantanamo and the Patriot act have demonstrated that the american government can very well be as bad as the Chinese one, albeit under the terrorist cloak. The scale is different, but the harm done is about the same in quality.

            • by foobsr (693224) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @06:05AM (#30442030) Homepage Journal
              Comparing the annexation of Tibet with, what? Panama?

              Texas? California? Or, much better, Hawai'i?

              CC.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by macshit (157376)

                Comparing the annexation of Tibet with, what? Panama?

                Texas? California? Or, much better, Hawai'i?

                So wait, if China were to legalize human slavery, you'd be OK with that because the U.S. (and many other countries) did it for a long time?

                I think the relevant aphorism is: "two wrongs don't make a right" -- if the U.S. does something bad, then criticize that, but it is not a reason to stop criticizing (e.g.) China.

              • the right of conquest? Every powerful country, even self-proclaimed anti-imperialists like the Communist countries, have recognized it. Their only complaints have been when it didn't serve them. If Mexico had won the Mexican-American War, you damn well better believe that they'd be saying that they have a right to Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia right now.

            • Comparing wiretapping to the attempt at national censorship?

              If we compare on this point alone, I consider the US to be almost as bad as China. Is it worse to openly censor content, or covertly operate massive surveillance programs, disappear your citizens without charge indefinitely, refuse their lawyers permission to even talk about the case, and have them tortured by third parties in an attempt to extract information? There is no presumption of innocence as soon as the word terrorism is invoked. What you call 'wiretapping' is now way beyond that, and mass tracking

              • You are making a judgment call that is yours to make, but your arguments in favor of it are weak.

                Is it worse to openly censor content, or covertly operate massive surveillance programs,

                Wiretapping in the US is on a much smaller scale (both in real numbers and as a percent of the population), so the number of people who's rights are being violated are much smaller. The Chinese government is trying to censor 100% of their population, which means that they are trying to surveil 100% of the population (you can't censor someone you aren't surveilling). Even if the US government were to censor eve

            • by selven (1556643)

              The Chinese took control of Tibet from an existing authoritarian regime. Arguably, there wasn't much of a shift downward for the residents. The US literally kicked out the Diego Garcians.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by HNS-I (1119771)
            Always America this, America that. We used to be badasses in Europe too! My country the Netherlands have colonized the world. Not only did we take slaves from Africa to South America. Noo that wasn't enough: we also had to take people from Indonesia, and the Middle East. So think about that next time you pick a random target to demonize.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Tacvek (948259)

            Diego Garcia's depopulation was done by the UK, not the US. The US wanted an island, and liked this one, they asked the UK to purchase it, and find some way to to make the island unpopulated. There are many ways to do so, some more legitimate than others. Fur example, it may have been possible to offer other land, money and other amenities to the natives in exchange for the island, or other similar things. Instead the UK decided to do such terrible things as attempt to starve the people off the Island, and

          • by DJRumpy (1345787)

            You depopulation link points out that the British Foreign Office actually did the depopulating. The US just benefited from it (along with the UK of course).

            Also, comparing wiretaps to the great firewall isn't exactly apples to apples. At least we can go where we wish on the internet. Big brother is just watching, opposed to China, which just can't go anywhere not sanctioned by the government (proxy hacks aside)
            Care to be more specific about Katrina? I don't recall any cases of police abuse. Failure to preve

          • Come now. Cut with the "CHINEZE ARE TEH EVILZ!" crap. If you want to point fingers at other nations and go around spreading your brand of Democracy (tm) then make sure you get it right first.

            I quite agree. Pointing fingers at oneself can be productive. Pointing fingers at others is usually just a way to self-deception. I always liked what Einstein said, i.e. "I think the only way to teach another is by example, even if it's an example of what not to do".

          • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

            The main difference between China and the US is that an American could publically agree with everything you just said, and not be killed for it.

          • - China has the Great Firewall.
            - The US has illegal wiretaps.

            Tiananmen Square [google.com] vs. Tiananmen Square [google.cn]

            Illegal wiretaps are nasty invasions of privacy and are a wrong that the U.S. government committed. You can read about and debate them in thousands of blog posts and news articles, none of which are censored. That's how you know about it. The same cannot be said of many things within China.

            Cultural relativism is the most lazy mental posture there is. "Hey, we're all different and about equally evil." Then it's ok to drift through life, I guess?

            Humans and human instituti

      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:12AM (#30441482) Journal

        Or has anyone seen the way Americans react to anything even resembling the mildest criticism of USA or it's people or how they try to shove their laws and "freedom" (the fact you cant smoke pot, can get up to 800 years in prison and are fucked over by RIAA really is freedom)?

        You can say that about any country in the world.

        Comments like the GP did really just make Americans seem more stupid and completely without knowledge about the other countries. Guess what, your government is master in shoving mindsets and specific thinking to its citizens. So much that I'll probably get lots of angry "no it isn't so, we have freedom!" to this reply. It's the true mind controlling.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Trepidity (597)

          Much of the vociferous criticism of the USA and its people comes from other Americans, so it doesn't seem like a particularly apt analogy. I'm admittedly not as familiar with the Chinese blogosphere as with the American one, but are there really Chinese equivalents to, say, DailyKos, that spend extensive time excoriating their own country's culture and government?

          • by pecosdave (536896) *

            Actually, yes, yes there is. Oh, and iPhone, there's an app for that! [slashdot.org]

            The big difference is, the DailyKos, which granted is a bunch of drivel, is a privately run bunch of drivel pushing an agenda. The Chinese drivel sites are either government run or government censored/dictated sites pushing an agenda.

            • by Trepidity (597)

              I'm aware there's a Chinese blogosphere. What I was curious is whether there was a part of the Chinese blogosphere that focuses on criticizing Chinese society and government, rather than promoting it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pecosdave (536896) *

          Of course, there's Americans like me who criticize our own. As a matter of fact there's lots of Americans who criticize our own. Usually those of us in the U.S. like to defend or condemn individual issues and yes, like it or leave it is often the answer, but I think you'll find not all of use generalize as much as you are.

          I'm with you. We should legalize pot, the RIAA is a bunch of A-Holes that need to get shut down, and yes, our government is way to powerful and sticks its nose where it doesn't belong.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by blind biker (1066130)

          NOt necessarily every country: in Finland, people and companies have a pretty solid track record of taking responsibility of their actions. It's part of the culture. The chinese have, on the other hand, a solid track record of lies and deceptions. Just look at the various falsities/fakeries during the Beijing Olympic games.

      • Troll? Seriously? Has anyone seen the way younger Chinese react to anything even resembling the mildest criticism of China or Chinese people or the Chinese government? Dude! They're pricklier than a porcupine.

        Reminds me of Americans. And Linux fanboys. And Windows fanboys. And mac fanboys. And AMD/Intel fanboys. And console fanboys. And PC fanboys. And...

    • the Chinese portion of anything is going to deny it's theft and call the original coders liars. The Chinese are great about this, the government mindset is embedded in the younger citizens - such as "We do not filter our Internet access, we have a few routing issues."

      Yeah, right.

      Have you even visited China, or are you just talking out of your ass? Let me guess, you think that everything is cheap and ripped off here too, right? As someone who moved to China from the U.S., and who works with young Chinese people every day, let me clue you into something: you hear a lot of nonsense and propaganda about China, and there are a lot of assumptions that are wrong. Fortunately for people like you, not enough Chinese people can speak English fluently to slap stuff like this down on Slashdot.

      • no no no (Score:3, Funny)

        by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        *puts finger in ears and chants:

        We've always been at war with Eastasia.
        We've always been at war with Eastasia.
        We've always been at war with Eastasia.
        We've always been at war with Eastasia.
        We've always been at war with Eastasia.

    • Despite the fact that it's Microsoft doing the crime, the crime is not theft, the crime is copyright violation. In this case it's copyright violation with the intent for commercial gain, and directly impacts the victim in more ways than the usual denial of revenue stream, so I'm sure other crimes apply.

      But copyright violation != theft. Theft denies the original owner use of the good being stolen. It's important to distinguish between the two ideas as the two crimes have different impacts on society, a

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @03:47AM (#30441366)

    That's why, when I copy source code I always change all variables, functions and classes to a, b, c, ...

    Copyright immunity and job security all in one.

  • by crazybit (918023) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:17AM (#30441512)
    rarely reaches the mass media news? but when a filesharer "steals" some software things happens in a completely different way.
    • Get this citizen and get this straight. When the king rapes a maid, that is all well and proper and his divine right. When a maid rapes the king, that is treason.

      It is called, double standards. Much better then having just one standard which is the way of socialists and other enemies of freedom to screw those below you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259)

      Because filesharers being sued for huge sums of money affects ordinary people; MS infringing on someone else's copyright does not.

      Or in other words, the public doesn't care as it doesn't affect them.

    • Just who do you think the media is?

      A loose conglomerate of huge corporations that represent corporate viewpoints with rare exception, or a group of journalists with integrity who focus on keeping regular citizens informed and government and business in check?

      If Fox news picks the story up, it'll be about how a huge business can't possibly be expected to keep tabs on all of it's subsidiaries. Which will immediately be followed by another story bashing ACORN, all without a hint of irony.

  • WHAT?!?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Microsoft? Hypocrites? NO WAY! Welcome to what you can do when you have exponentially more money than the people you're stealing from.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:24AM (#30441544)

    I'm sure this is simply a case of the engineers in China being told "make us this product", and when waiting until they deliver a finished product without questioning it properly. Their American MSFT overlords probably took no time to apply the same oversight that they would give to their domestic employees.

    How do I know this? Because it's happened with my company before too.

    And why does it happen? Language barrier and time zone difference.

  • They've been doing this kind of thing for years. The history of personal computing is littered with the corpses of companies that invented something that Microsoft wanted and acquired by the expedient means of stealing it.

    Anyone who wants to dispute this needs to review history first. And anyone who doubts this also needs to review history. Has Microsoft changed their ways? Maybe - but it doesn't look like it given stories like this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrNaz (730548) *

      Wouldn't it be great if there was a large on line repository of knowledge that could be linked to when making broad claims and repeated insistence that a reader should "review history". That way you could make broad claims and actually link to the facts that you are referring to. We could call it the "World Wide Spider's Home" or something like that.

    • by upside (574799) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:54AM (#30441696) Journal

      People always read too much into events like this. Microsoft is not a monolithic entity where every action is centrally planned and intentional. It's not like Steve Ballmer sat down with managers to figure which startup to rip off or part of the Microsoft induction is Ripoff 101.

      What happened is most likely a subcontractor taking a shortcut.

      If you want to blame Microsoft, put it down to poor IPR training and lacking due diligence. These are doubly important in developing countries that don't have the same awareness of these issues. I'm not defending Microsoft, but I'm sure code theft is something they genuinely try to avoid. At least where I work open source is an important part of our work and we are trained on how to use it correctly.

  • by DMiax (915735) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @04:32AM (#30441578)
    Reading most of the press reports it would seem that the allegation is based on similarities in the look, shown by screenshots. If you read from Plurk's post you will see that the code is identical apart from some variables that were called *Plurk* and got renamed to *Wall*... It sounds much more serious this way.
  • Open Source (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jkasd (1663231)
    This is why open source will ultimately win. It's just too tempting to use someone else's code rather than writing your own code to do the same thing. The fact that a large software company like Microsoft has succumbed to this simply shows how widely adopted this mindset is becoming. Of course, Microsoft was still wrong to do this.
  • Not like this hasn't happened before...

  • by Spasmodeus (940657) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @06:02AM (#30442020)

    How can this be stealing?

    Nothing physical was lost, only data was copied and Plurk lost nothing!

    Also, it's not piracy, because we all know that piracy only happens on ships at sea!

    Therefore, it is only logical that the title of this article be changed to "Microsoft Shares Code with Microblogging Startup".

  • What's all this, first there's an article about a patent troll and the discussion goes about nothing but communism, and then there's a post about Microsoft stealing code and the discussion goes about China! Why can't I see discussions about the topic anymore?

  • by icepick72 (834363) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @06:31AM (#30442128)
    Folks it's Microsoft "China" which means the Chinese culture working in a Microsoft owned building in China. There is likely major cultural misunderstanding or forces that are at work here beyond the fact the brand is Microsoft. That's a very hard thing to manage for any transcontinental company.
    • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:09AM (#30442304) Homepage

      That's a very hard thing to manage for any transcontinental company.

      And that's why you either monitor things very closely or keep the code writing at home. Regardless of the fact that it's Microsoft China, it was Microsoft's choice to set up the organization, it was their choice to put whoever was in charge of managing the operation and the code from that organization in their position and, ultimately, they bear the responsibilities for those actions. Especially given that it's a company that screams to high heaven about IP rights (and specifically, issues with IP rights in the far east).

      Bottom line, Microsoft deserves everything negative it gets from this.

  • I am very sure Microsoft is really really furious at the developer, the developing group or the outsourced entity in charge of developing code. They do not tolerate such obvious and open theft of code. They have very strong internal procedures and policies. I am very sure there is a strong "Best Practices" document exclusively and exhaustively dealing with theft of source code.

    It has developed lots of CASE tools and code obfuscation tools and mark up tools. They have procedures on how to massage stolen co

  • Considering Microsoft's new ad campaign, we shouldn't be so surprised...

    Windows 7 was my idea.

    Literally, Windows 7 was my fucking idea.

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