Microsoft China accused of stealing code from Plurk
December 15th, 2009 - 09:10 am ET by J. G.
Popular in Asia, the Plurk microblogging site appears to have been a victim of plagiarism and theft by Microsoft China.
Launched in May 2008, Plurk is a Multilanguage microblogging service set up as a competitor to Twitter, although for the time being they have been unable to impose themselves on the world market except for in Asia where they are the leading service of this kind despite Chinese censorship. Plurk are now globally known through, after having accused Microsoft China of plagiarism and code theft.
For Plurk, while imitation can perhaps be seen as a form of flattery on the web, "the theft of our code, design and user interface elements" is an unforgivable act, especially when the perpetrator is "the largest software company in the world".
The accusations surround Microsoft China’s microblogging site launched last month : MSN Juku/Hompy/Mclub. According to Plurk, who have used screen captures to demonstrate the guilt of the other party (below), there is no doubt that the service is an exact copy of their own navigation system. Plurk goes on to state that they have never worked with Microsoft, estimating that 80% of the MSN Juku/Hompy/Mclub code was stolen from Plurk.
This is the main argument that Plurk puts forward, stating that Microsoft’s site goes further then just visual similarities: "Microsoft has taken software libraries, CSS files and client code developed by Plurk and implemented them directly into their own services without even trying to hide the fact!"
Plurk is rather straight forward in their claims, looking to advance their case and gain momentum. Microsoft on the other hand has responded by press release, stating that it is still too early to draw any conclusions from the matter, with investigations are ongoing in conjunction with their affiliate MSN China. In the meantime, the Juku functions (beta) have been temporarily suspended.
Microsoft, who are rather strict on intellectual property rights, have stated that MSN China worked with an independent design house for the creation of MSN Juku, allowing MSN users to find friends via microblogging and online games.
Laying blame at the feet of a third party isn’t something new to Microsoft, after recently violating the free licensing agreement with their Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. This previous event lead to Microsoft quickly correcting their mistake with the re-release of the GPLv2 tool and the publication of its source code.