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Microsoft Social Networks The Internet

Microsoft Acknowledges Theft of Code From Plurk 215

Posted by kdawson
from the least-they-could-do dept.
adeelarshad82 writes with news that Microsoft has acknowledged and taken responsibility for the theft of code belonging to Plurk.com, although the company also said it was the work of a Chinese vendor. Yesterday we discussed Plurk's blog post accusing Microsoft of copying their UI and code for Microsoft's Chinese microblogging site, Juku. Microsoft has now taken the site down and indefinitely suspended Juku's beta.
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Microsoft Acknowledges Theft of Code From Plurk

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  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:15PM (#30451584) Homepage

    "The Chinese vendor for our MSN China joint venture has now acknowledged that a portion of the code they provided was indeed copied," said Microsoft

    This case gives us a great window into what a world without copyright protection would look like: everyone ripping off everyone else's code. There got to be a compromise that works for both the GPL and the RIAA, so end users (us) win.

    Plus it's ironic that Microsoft, the "king" of software development is having all those problems with subcontractors writing code for them.

    --
    you don't need to be in silicon valley to start a startup [fairsoftware.net] anymore

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:20PM (#30451670)
    Oh the irony. I hope they get treated with the harshness they have shown to those caught "copying" their works. I also like how they say "copying" instead of "stolen" which I thought was their word for this sort of situation when it happens to them. Shoe on the other foot indeed.
  • Re:Wait....What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:29PM (#30451786)

    Microsoft takes responsibility for theft of code by blaming someone else?

    How was their a theft of code? Did the original developers have all accesses to their code taken away? Secondly, there is nothing mutually exclusive about taking responsibility for not properly auditing code you take in from secondary sources and also pointing out who was the originator of the infringing code.

  • by cpghost (719344) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:30PM (#30451794) Homepage

    This case gives us a great window into what a world without copyright protection would look like: everyone ripping off everyone else's code.

    And what's wrong with code sharing and code reusing? Aren't we all but standing on the shoulders of giants (scientists and coders alike)?

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:32PM (#30451818)

    Clearly they have to give it back.

     

  • Re:Wait....What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:34PM (#30451836)

    Perhaps you'd prefer "Microsoft lies about being responsible for code theft".

    They are taking responsibility for hiring a contractor who stole code. Blaming the person or entity that actually committed the offense isn't exactly a novel concept.

  • by Mr_Plattz (1589701) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:35PM (#30451848)
    So it turns out Chinese steal and pilfer IP from themselves as well. Not just the big US Corporations.

    Anyone who doesn't truely understand how this isnt MSFT's fault hasn't worked in Corporate IT for long enough.

    I hope the Project Managers and Developers are dealt with swiftly, but "Microsoft steals code"... I don't think so. I think you will find the real Developers in MSFT are offended that they are brought down by an under-evaluated project (why else would it be pawned off to China) run by a hand full of incompetent and unethical people.
  • by Nutria (679911) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:38PM (#30451882)

    And what's wrong with code sharing and code reusing?

    Any place that aspires to be First World needs the Rule Of Law. Licenses, and following them, are part of that law. The GPL, LGPL, BSD, Apache, MIT/X, etc, etc are Free licenses which encourage code sharing and reusing. Closed licensing does not, but to stay civilized, we must respect -- even if we do not agree with -- those who choose to keep their source closed.

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:53PM (#30452034) Homepage
    Sadly, I'm not sure I'm joking.
  • by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:06PM (#30452176)

    This makes no sense. You can argue that since licenses are currently the law we need to follow them (or get them repealed), but you gave no evidence or logic for why the law should allow for copyright or licenses of any type. And no, we don't need to respect closed source- even in a world that has licensing you can work to legally circumvent or to repeal them. Or you can just believe in civil disobedience and ignore them entirely.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:12PM (#30452224)

    Companies need to be held responsible for overseeing what their contractors are doing. Blaming the contractor != taking responsibility.

    They (MSN China) acted in good faith by immediately pulling down the site.

    What part of "We apologize to Plurk and we will be reaching out to them directly to explain what happened and the steps we have taken to resolve the situation. In the wake of this incident, Microsoft and our MSN China joint venture will be taking a look at our practices around applications code provided by third-party vendors" don't you understand?

    As much as I dislike MSFT, I can't blame them for their reaction to this minor scandal. Though I would blame them for, in the future, again using that contractor...

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:13PM (#30452230)

    I've said it several times before, and I'll say it again: dealing with Chinese vendors sucks. You never know if the code is original or not.

    Yeah you do. It's not.

    I realized how the Chinese think when I heard about the theme park they built in Beijing a couple years ago. They had several options. The most obvious is an all-Chinese theme, Chinese culture has so much history that there are so many things they could integrate into their own theme park to make a truly unique thing. The other option that comes to mind would be to license something from Disney or someone else, then you could sell all of the official merchandise, get cuts from other things, etc.

    But they didn't choose either of those options, they chose a counterfeit Disney park. Everything looks (sort of) like Disney, but it's not, and they can't sell any Disney merchandise. They could have made something truly their own, or licensed an existing brand, but they thought the best choice was to make a counterfeit product. That gave me some insight into the way things work in China.

  • Re:Wait....What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:22PM (#30452304)

    Microsoft takes responsibility for theft of code by blaming someone else?

    Being at fault and being responsible for are two different things.

    For example, if one of my employees did something illegal at the company, it would be their fault for doing something illegal, yet I would be and would have to take responsibility for my employees actions.

    I'm not saying that example is the case here (I don't know either way), but it is very possible to be responsible for something that is not your fault.

  • by santiagodraco (1254708) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:43PM (#30452526)

    How about everything? If I don't' want to share my code what gives you the right to take it without my consent? I find it hard to believe that there are people out there that would promote the theft of the work of others and try to imply some sort of nobility about the act, as if by not sharing you are somehow a lesser person.

    I'd suggest that by not doing your own work, yourself, and expecting others to provide it that YOU are the lesser person not the originator.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:52PM (#30452608)

    Yes, but it is one thing to reuse code. It's entirely another one to rip it off.

    Science is about standing on giant's shoulders. Not claiming to be the giant.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:59PM (#30452672) Journal

    You seem to be implying that this is what the GPL is working towards. It's not.

    BSD licenses are far closer, but no one forces you to release stuff BSD-licensed, either. In fact, I'd imagine many people who contribute to BSD projects are as appalled by Microsoft's behavior here as you are.

    And I've never heard Microsoft described as the "king" of software development before.

  • by Motard (1553251) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @09:06PM (#30452738)

    Here Microsoft had to take an infringing service offline - much to the benefit of the original inventors. If they were not infringing by copying code, they could've just taken what they wanted and crushed the inventors under their boots.

    Intellectual property laws are meant to protect the little guy as much or more than the big guys.

    Yes, this even covers code covered by the GPL(icense).

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @09:42PM (#30452998) Journal

    Private stuff? It's merely the product of his labors, as is code to a programmer. Why is there a distinction between private and non-private "stuff" anyway?

    For example, say he has naked photos of his girl friend in his house. Do you think he (or his girl friend) would be happy if a total stranger sees them? And I'm pretty sure the answer to this question has zero relation to the work he put into those photos.

    Oh fuck off with your "it's not theft" bullshit.

    Great argument ;-) Especially since I haven't talked about words. I talked about effects. Namely the effect of something not being there any more.

    You directly damage people by copying their code without paying them for it. It is a real, tangible effect.

    No. Not any more than by simply not using their damned code at all. They don't have a loss, they only do not get a profit. There is no basic right to get a profit from whatever you do.

    You just compared closed source code and IP law to slavery and homicide

    No, I didn't. I applied your argument to slavery and homicide, to show that the argument isn't valid. If you don't get the difference, you should take a course in basic logic.

  • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:34PM (#30453364)

    Or you can just believe in civil disobedience and ignore them entirely.

    Belief is not enough. The essence of civil disobedience is that you accept the risk of civil and criminal penalties.

    Arrest. Conviction. Confinement.

    The essence of civil disobedience is that you do so without any guarantees whatever. You may rot in jail and be entirely - and perhaps deservedly - forgotten.

    You may be bankrupt by a judgment and no one will give a damn.

    we don't need to respect closed source

    You respect closed source or open source loses its meaning, support and protection.

    You've unilaterally declared all exposed code to be public domain. That doesn't code out into the open. It drive s it deeper into hiding.

    you gave no evidence or logic for why the law should allow for copyright or licenses of any type

    There are three ways of supporting a significant creative talent. He can have an independent source of income.

    Which means that in all likelihood he will remain forever an amateur. He almost certainly not be working class.

    The first alternative is patronage - by the state, the church, or the merchant prince. Each will have their own agenda which will shape the final product.

    The second is through sales. This opens the door fully to participation by the lower and middle classes.

    That is where you'll find Huck Finn. Dorothy Gale. Sam Spade. Susie Salmon.

    But to make a living through his work and to build an estate for his family, the artist must have control over the use of his work.

    Copyright drives innovation. You have to take chances. You have no protection unless you have produced a substantially original work.

  • by mlingojones (919531) * on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @02:59AM (#30454692) Homepage

    For example, say he has naked photos of his girl friend in his house. Do you think he (or his girl friend) would be happy if a total stranger sees them? And I'm pretty sure the answer to this question has zero relation to the work he put into those photos.

    Really? All it takes to make something immoral is that it makes someone unhappy? Well, shit, how happy do you think our hypothetical programmer would be if someone used his code without asking permission, paying him or giving him credit?

    Great argument ;-) Especially since I haven't talked about words. I talked about effects. Namely the effect of something not being there any more.

    You actually didn't address his argument, which was that scarcity isn't necessary for theft. As in, "copying code is still theft, even though nothing is technically *taken away* from someone". You are the one arguing semantics here, sir.

    No. Not any more than by simply not using their damned code at all. They don't have a loss, they only do not get a profit. There is no basic right to get a profit from whatever you do.

    Actually, if any money went into the code being written, then there IS a monetary loss. Not to mention time and hard work.

    No, I didn't. I applied your argument to slavery and homicide, to show that the argument isn't valid. If you don't get the difference, you should take a course in basic logic.

    Okay, this part is true. Since you seem to be so well versed in logic, let's apply YOUR argument to another topic to show that it's not valid.

    Plagiarism should be legal! Why? Well, you're not "stealing" something, since the person from whom you plagiarized still has it after you plagiarize it. And there's no loss, there's only not a profit!

  • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:47AM (#30456830)

    Information is not aware of what it wants, and as far as I know we cannot ascertain its desires. I'd suggest not prefacing comments with this type of silliness.

    It makes more sense to say that it's natural for someone to come up with a better mousetrap and then say "Hey y'all, look what I did." And then everyone uses the better mouse trap. "How silly for someone to ask for royalties on such an obvious idea!" one might exclaim. But if it were obvious, everyone would already be doing it.

    The point is, people share ideas all the time, it's natural. Information itself doesn't sit on a hard drive yelling "download me!" It's just pure silliness, a catchphrase. But it doesn't sound so awesome when you say "humans naturally share ideas" does it?

  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @12:20PM (#30458898) Homepage Journal

    Well, the thing is Slashdot isn't a Hive Mind... It's made up of different people with different opinions...

    And yet, long-time readers like myself have learnt to recognise the same basic comments being made *and modded to +5* on articles time and time again.

    Another popular one (at least in recent years) has been pointing out logical flaws in arguments: over-reliance on anecdotal evidence, for instance...

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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