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Microsoft Acknowledges Theft of Code From Plurk

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the least-they-could-do dept.

Microsoft 215

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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a world without copyright (4, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451584)

"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

Re:a world without copyright (2, Funny)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451654)

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

Well, if Microsoft is the "King" and Apple has the second largest share of the PC market, I guess that would make Apple the "Queen" of software development?

....

Yes, I know. I'm going to get it from the fanboys with mod points but, I just couldn't resist!

Re:a world without copyright (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451736)

I guess that would make Apple the "Queen" of software development?

Because I'm easy come, easy go
Little high, little low,
any way the winblows.

Re:a world without copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30451918)

All we hear is radio GaGa [apple.com] ...

Re:a world without copyright (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452888)

That is neither ladylike nor gaga.

Re:a world without copyright (0, Offtopic)

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Re:a world without copyright (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452000)

2nd largest share is misleading. isn't their market share around 10% (and a majority of that 10% also own a system with MS)? Apple is more of a countess...

Re:a world without copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30451724)

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

This is the second time it's happened to MSFT recently, the other was a windows 7 tool that used GPL'd code. If Microsoft begins using Chinese shops for Windows development, it wont be long before they have to audit their Windows codebase for GPL'd Reactos code. Now that would be ironic! [reactos.org]

Re:a world without copyright (4, Insightful)

cpghost (719344) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451794)

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)?

Re:a world without copyright (5, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:a world without copyright (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452080)

I think you're looking at this a bit backwards here, since no part of this involves people respecting MS's rights, but more MS not respecting other individual's rights (acknowledgment of prior knowledge is far from it being an accident, whether it was through a subcontractor as they state or not).

Re:a world without copyright (3, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:a world without copyright (0, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452534)

And no, we don't need to respect closed source

Why not? Because you don't want to?
Fuck you.

People write closed source code for a living. It is a real, tangible product with real, tangible costs.

How about I go to your house and just take what I want?

Re:a world without copyright (5, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452632)

How about I go to your house and just take what I want?

The analogy fails in several ways.
First: Your house usually contains private stuff. Going to someone's house is more like breaking into his computer.
Second: If you take something away, it's not there any more.

And the argument that some people do something for a living doesn't tell you anything about if that should be legal. In the times of slavery, some people were trading slaves for a living. Professional killers kill for a living. By your logic, slavery and killing should be legal.

Re:a world without copyright (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452770)

The analogy fails in several ways.
First: Your house usually contains private stuff. Going to someone's house is more like breaking into his computer.

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?

Second: If you take something away, it's not there any more.

Oh fuck off with your "it's not theft" bullshit.
Thievery has been around longer than the conscious sharing of information. If you want to make up a new term to fellate yourself to, go ahead, but the end result is the fucking same.

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

And the argument that some people do something for a living doesn't tell you anything about if that should be legal. In the times of slavery, some people were trading slaves for a living. Professional killers kill for a living. By your logic, slavery and killing should be legal.

What the FUCK are you talking about?
You just compared closed source code and IP law to slavery and homicide, and you called MY analogy a failure?

Fuck off you worthless piece of shit.

Re:a world without copyright (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452998)

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.

Re:a world without copyright (1)

santiagodraco (1254708) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452564)

Let me translate your post for you so others can better comprehend:

"This makes no sense (blah blah blah)... or you can just believe in theft and ignore laws entirely.

The evidence and logic is in the article (2, Insightful)

Motard (1553251) | more than 4 years ago | (#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).

Re:a world without copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452798)

being civilly disobedient doesn't mean that you are above the law

Re:a world without copyright (5, Insightful)

santiagodraco (1254708) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:a world without copyright (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:a world without copyright (1, Flamebait)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451810)

What's wrong with ripping off code? If Microsoft rips off code from these people and these people rip off code from microsoft in return, both (and by extension the end users) benefit.

They stole the code (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451818)

Clearly they have to give it back.

 

Re:a world without copyright (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452016)

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

I don't think that you will find anyone who claims they are the king of software development. They are very willing to simply buy up someone's work to base their products on. They have done that ever since MS-DOS. It's just the proprietry version of the code reuse that happens in the open souce world.

However, it is their Achilles heal because they cannot guarantee the origin of the code. I can't help but wonder whether they might start to shy away from this practice after the troubles that they have had. On the other hand, when developing for a different market like China, it makes sense to use local knowledge of language and mindset of the people.

Re:a world without copyright (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452032)

If the original coders back in 1960 to 1980 felt the same, you wouldn't be able to do a directory listing and windows would be a mythical dream still locked up in a Xerox research lab.

Code should be reused. ANY code built on something that was given to the public domain should be free and public domain.

Otherwise, they should buy every tool and properly license every library before releasing anything.

Re:a world without copyright (3, Interesting)

euxneks (516538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452116)

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.

The compromise is to require completely open source code from all software vendors. People will go to the place that has the best results for them, and if everything is open source, we don't have to worry about people "stealing" things - it becomes easy for everyone to see if everyone else is using or taking their code, and particularly inspired developers will add to the code.

It would be like books now - there's copyright on them thar books and if you copy it and sell it under a different book title, it's plainly obvious.

Closed source is a way for a company to hide their dubious practices. It's when shit is closed source like what microsoft normally does that it takes a lot of effort to tell if they're standing on the backs of the hardworking goliath that is open source developers.

Re:a world without copyright (3, Informative)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452570)

...

if everything is open source, we don't have to worry about people "stealing" things - it becomes easy for everyone to see if everyone else is using or taking their code, and particularly inspired developers will add to the code.

Spoken like someone who doesn't develop software for a living.
My company (among other things) develops software. The sale of that software pays for our homes, electricity, computers, and the ability to continue developing programs that people need.

Now if someone wants to pay my car payment, house payment, electricity bill, buy a few new computers, etc...then sure--I'll develop and release software for free.

But as long as I need to feed my family, I need to continue earning money. If I can't do that by developing software, I'll go pump gas and you can live without it.

If Microsoft couldn't make money from their software, and Bill had decided to pump gas instead, where would you be today?

Would linux be where it is today?
How about the iPhone?

Re:a world without copyright (4, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452242)

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

I think it's a good thing actually. Because it's revealing the problems of subcontracting. What Microsoft is seeing already has happened elsewhere. Just the victim is either too small, or the companies involved are smaller, so that news of stuff like this is lucky to make the news. Only big companies get the attention of the press.

Code gets "reused" all the time, accidentally or maliciously. Just the parties are often too small or settle quickly to be more than a ripple. In fact, I'd guess Microsoft and other companies are looking at the three major code "reuse" issues in recent history - Microsoft and the USB/DVD Downloader Tool, this thing, and the BusyBox thing, to carefully audit their subcontracted code.

That's a horrifying thought. (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452296)

That the RIAA world is somehow the polar opposite of some GPL world.

And that it's all about "us" users. The "end user."

The consumer

ugh.

UGH.

I am not merely a consumer, and I'm sure you're not either.

Re:a world without copyright (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452598)

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

That's not a case for copyright protection, thats a case for not releasing source code. If the source code is not available, then it can't be stolen, can it?

If you can recreate source code just by looking at the executable, then that falls under the category of 'obvious' and is not patentable. If you cannot recreate the functionality, then that is better protection than any patent can provide.

Software patents are basically pointless.

The GPL relies on copyright. (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452672)

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.

I assume heads will roll. (2, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:I assume heads will roll. (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451922)

It's actually much worse then the copying that normally goes on with MS's own software, at least there it's at most only a lost sale at stake, here MS is ripping off a direct competitor and hoping to use the stolen code to compete against them using their monopoly power and large warchest to get started in that new venture.

Re:I assume heads will roll. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452446)

Prior Art

Doublespace vs Drivespace, where the only difference in the codebase was the 8 characters used for the MS-DOS filenames. IIRC drvspace.sys vs dblspace.sys

Re:I assume heads will roll. (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452562)

Uh, both those were MS files. MS WAS found to have infringed on Stac Electronic's patents for disk compression, but there were no allegations of copyright infringement.

Re:I assume heads will roll. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30451992)

Is Microsoft really that harsh about copyright? Have they sued anyone because of copyrights? I really can't remember hearing of anything like that. They even deliver security patches to unlicensed windows installations, because they know otherwise they would only hurt themselves.

Re:I assume heads will roll. (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452976)

You were listening to your iPod. Microsoft is pretty sticky about copyrights.

And while they've been boorish in other ways, owning up to the theft of code and withdrawing the site shows they respect the license and the breech.

I would venture to say that they're back to the drawing board.... again.

Re:I assume heads will roll. (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452042)

Individuals in the company refer to their work being stolen, but official Microsoft statements and press releases are always more carefully worded and will talk about copying or infringment of copyright. Also, do you have any examples of Microsoft behaving harsher to others. If you copy their code in a similar way and then voluntarily cease and desist then they will not persue it further. Things go to court only if negotiation fails.

Re:I assume heads will roll. (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452284)

If you RTFA, the decision to copy the code was not made by MS itself, but by an independent Chinese contractor that was hired to do the job. I assume that said contractor will now be heavily fined for breaking the contract terms (TFA: "This was in clear violation of the vendor's contract with the MSN China joint venture").

Furthermore, "Microsoft and our MSN China joint venture will be taking a look at our practices around applications code provided by third-party vendors".

They're on a roll lately. (0, Flamebait)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451686)

I feel like accusing them of sleeping with my mother if I knew they would publicly admit to doing so.

Re:They're on a roll lately. (1)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451726)

Son, there's something I've been meaning to tell you...

Re:They're on a roll lately. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452326)

The monkey man [youtube.com] is your father? Well, it explains your nick ... :-)

my 2 cents (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30451690)

@WiiVault: #chinks are good for #sucking dick, #doing laundry, and #copying others. They're not good at software development. full stop.

Wait....What? (0, Troll)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451700)

Just so I understand...

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

Did I fail one too many English classes somewhere?

Re:Wait....What? (1)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451744)

They aren't exactly taking responsibility. Like the headline says: Microsoft Acknowledges Theft of Code From Plurk.

Re:Wait....What? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452172)

If you read the first link in the summary and then apply your 'because I read it on Slashdot' analysis, you will see that Microsoft has taken responsibility.

Re:Wait....What? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452270)

They didn't copy code directly, but got "respondeat superior"-ifized into being on the hook for it.

Re:Wait....What? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452676)

So "it wasn't me, the trojan did it" becomes a working defense for Joe Everyday Pirate (sorry, dear MS-PR department, copyright infringer... or is it still pirating if someone else does it? Maybe hand out a roadmap to that topic) now too?

Re:Wait....What? (2, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wait....What? (2, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451906)

The idea that "copying isn't theft" only applies when you copy music or movies. It doesn't apply to MS because .. ugh.. because it's MS.

Re:Wait....What? (1)

Jezza (39441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452064)

I kinda remember Microsoft themselves talk about people "stealing" Windows. Technically "stealing" isn't the correct word, it's like riding a train without a ticket, or sneaking into a ballgame. However you slice it then it's wrong. This is far simpler it's plagiarism. Of course, if the code had come from Windows then Microsoft would call it "stealing".

I wonder what they called it when the did it to Stac? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stac_Electronics)

Re:Wait....What? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452164)

Of course, if the code had come from Windows then Microsoft would call it "stealing".

And all the same people calling this a "theft" of code would be decrying that Microsoft is using the word wrong. The point is that it's hypocritical to use terms in a way that you would claim is wrong for someone else to do.

Re:Wait....What? (1)

Jezza (39441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452402)

If we're being pedantic (and I guess I started it) then it's accepted usage to talk of "stealing someone else's work" when what's actually meant it passing it off as your own (rather than depriving the originator of the work itself).

I'd agree "stealing" in this sense it's the same as taking a physical object, but you are still obtaining something you don't have rightful claim over. You could argue that has this code has a cost (someone's time) then it must have a monetary value, so appropriating it without consent IS stealing.

My understanding is the distinction is only relevant for English Law - where theft involves depriving the owner - other definitions seem to be far more broad. (I'm English - so my understanding of your laws maybe in error)

Re:Wait....What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452606)

I think everyone knows what we mean when talking about stealing code or pirating software/music/movies. I don't get why so many people are upset about that. Language is just a tool to communicate with other people.

It's not like taking a perfectly understood phrase like "free product" and redefine that to something slightly unrelated, just to get an argument started.

The Stac case had nothing to do with source code (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452862)

Stac never claimed that MS used their source code - they claimed that they violated their patent.

Re:Wait....What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452158)

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.

Hey, you are confusing the mob, [JS] forcing us to live in area between absolutes. BRAIN HURTS [/JS]

Re:Wait....What? (2, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

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

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Dealing with the Chinese (5, Interesting)

abigor (540274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451734)

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.

At this point, when I run into Chinese code when working with whatever client, I assume it's been copied from somewhere. Often I recognise it as such (Busybox, various http servers, etc.) When confronted, they either deny it, or simply wonder what the problem is - it's "freeware", after all, particularly after stripping off that pesky GPL at the top of each file.

Re:Dealing with the Chinese (4, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Dealing with the Chinese (1)

desertfool (21262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452630)

Add Indians to that. I work with an Indian outsource vendor who used our policies and procedures, along with our home grown tools (which were not protected) to win a different contract.

It goes with the territory.

On the flip side, we used to share amongst ourselves. Now it is 'copying'. Might be a bit of racism at work, but it might be stealing as well.

There goes my karma.....

Re:Dealing with the Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452890)

The Indian team we outsource with tried the same thing. They didn't get away with it and they won't be doing it again, I can tell you.

Re:Dealing with the Chinese (3, Interesting)

zullnero (833754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30453028)

I also have direct experience with this. For a short period of time, I worked in a team for a startup almost entirely comprised of Chinese developers hired mainly as interns under some shady L1 type of deal. (I don't even put this company on my resume.) The overwhelming theme is that the only way they can be successful is if their stuff works exactly like someone else's, and can be done super cheap and super fast. Cheap and imitative is pounded into their heads by management, and respect for licenses and other people's intellectual property is thrown out the door because the manager is always right. I guess it's the side effect of a culture that has been warped into a hyper-competitive assembly line mode of production in almost all aspects of industry.

Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibility (1, Flamebait)

NoKaOi (1415755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451770)

While I'm sure this is a valid reason - that their contractors ripped of the code - is that an excuse to absolve them of blame? Hell no! MS needs to held responsible. What incentive do they have to prevent this kind of thing in the future if they aren't forced to take responsibility? And by responsibility, I don't mean blaming it on their contractor. This is a big "duh" that this is going to happen when you outsource to a country where the labor is cheap and cheating is culturally acceptable such that nobody gives a damn if they get caught. I've had to work with Indian contractors who ripped off code, which we identified thanks to just a little bit of diligence on our part because we actually want to know what we're releasing and charging our customers for.

Companies need to be held responsible for overseeing what their contractors are doing. Blaming the contractor != taking responsibility. That it was their contractors who stole might be the reason, but it is ABSOLUTELY NOT AN EXCUSE!

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451896)

I have to agree on the point that MS definetely needs to step up their level of due diligence. Then I also ask myself why you would do business with a company that has a history of this behaviour. Doesn't anyone track and record what these sub-contractors do?(or is that like tracking a shoddy plumber?) Then MS did seem to get caught with the cookie jar again. When I was a child there were penalties for breaking rules. Come to think of it, there still are, unless you're a giant corporation it seems.

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (4, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451938)

"When I was a child there were penalties for breaking rules. Come to think of it, there still are, unless you're a giant corporation it seems."

They've admitted that the code was copied and took down the site. What rule didn't they follow?

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452018)

I just don't think that volunteering to take your hand out of the cookie jar when someone catches you qualifies as doing anything to further the position they are in. It's just not the same as taking steps to assure us that this type of thing won't happen again.

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452166)

I just don't think that volunteering to take your hand out of the cookie jar when someone catches you qualifies as doing anything to further the position they are in.

You don't think this cost them anything? They suspended thier beta, losing any time and money spent on that so far. It's cost them bad press, and riled up the anti-microsoft crowd even more.

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452634)

I'm not saying that it didn't cost them anything, look at all the egg on the face. It did indeed cost them something. But they would have looked a lot better had they caught it on their own, and then pulled the site down. Getting caught, that's never good. Aren't you supposed to audit projects like that to make certain that this type of thing doesn't happen?

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

Chrono11901 (901948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452964)

So every time you buy a car do you inspect every single part and serial number to make sure no parts were stolen?

By what fucked up logic should MSFT be held responsible when they themselves were ripped off?

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452046)

What rule didn't they follow?

I dunno, how about:

Checking before selling it to the public as their own?

Having systems in place to ensure their products aren't stolen property?

Having a corporate culture/pride/ethics that would make code theft unlikely?

It's not like this is an isolated instance of unethical behaviour from them, is it?

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (2)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452206)

Good luck with that. When you've got a global database of all licensed code everywhere you can search against let me know.

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (0, Flamebait)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452258)

Having a corporate culture/pride/ethics that would make code theft unlikely

How exactly do you propose that Microsoft force Chinese programmers to work according to their ethics? That's like MS opening a shop in Mexico and trying to explain to everyone that they no longer take naps in the middle of the work day, or opening a shop in Saudi Arabia where they get a vacation on Christmas but not Ramadan.

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452184)

You hire someone to paint your garage. He does so, but he stole the paint from your neighbor. Who is to blame?

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (5, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#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...

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452730)

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...

...or for using a different contractor who just so happened to have 60% of the same management as this contractor....

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452332)

While I'm sure this is a valid reason - that their contractors ripped of the code - is that an excuse to absolve them of blame? Hell no! MS needs to held responsible. What incentive do they have to prevent this kind of thing in the future if they aren't forced to take responsibility?

As in any other case dealing with copyright, it's up to the rights holder to try to reach an agreement with MS on how they want to be compensated for damage caused to them, or to sue for the same thing. I suspect they would ask for a monetary compensation, and likely receive it, without this case ever going to court (as with this public admission, it would be pretty hard to defend against any copyright infringement claim).

Similarly, it's up to MS to sue the contractor for breaking the terms of the contract and causing damages to MS.

Re:Blaming somebody else is not taking responsibil (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452724)

And when it turns out the guy you hired to mow your lawn stole the fuel for the lawnmower, clearly you are at fault~

It's not theft... (1, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451798)

It's just "extreme outsourcing."

Can't beat the price, eh?

This isn't "Microsoft's" fault (5, Insightful)

Mr_Plattz (1589701) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:This isn't "Microsoft's" fault (1)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452228)

I believe Plurk is actually Taiwanese [plurk.com] , though whether or not Taiwan is really independent seems to vary based on who you talk to. China obviously doesn't feel they are. Either way, it's mostly semantics anyway - just thought I'd point it out.

Re:This isn't "Microsoft's" fault (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452640)

Thanks, we all read our Newsweek subscriptions.

What...? (1, Troll)

TheSeer2 (949925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30451908)

So when /. is debating moves against piracy it'll yell "OH NO IT'S NOT THEFT IT'S COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT" but if it's an MS article...

Re:What...? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452020)

Name one person who has done this. "Slashdot" is not a singular entity.

Re:What...? (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452038)

How about the fucking headline, assjack?

Re:What...? (0, Flamebait)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452120)

The headline was written by 'adeelarshad82'. Please point out where that SAME ONE PERSON has advocated removing copyright for movies and music. Otherwise, please acknowledge the GP as correct.

Re:What...? (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452198)

Wheel your goalposts out of here, doofus.

Oh no, hypocrisy about word choice! (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452128)

So when /. is debating moves against piracy it'll yell "OH NO IT'S NOT THEFT IT'S COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT" but if it's an MS article...

Well, the thing is Slashdot isn't a Hive Mind... It's made up of different people with different opinions... I couldn't tell you whether adeelarshad82 (the submitter of the story) or kdawson (the one who published it here) are guilty of the hypocrisy you describe... Mainly because I don't pay enough attention to either of them to know. :)

But really the same thing occurred to me. The use of the term "theft" seemed a bit misplaced here: I'm mostly in the "copyright violation is not theft" camp. I don't think "theft" is quite the right term for copyright violation personally, rather labeling it's just a way to enforce one idea of how copyright violation should be treated. It's basically an attempt to subvert the entire issue of how copyright infringement should be treated. So its use here isn't something I particularly support.

Re:What...? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452540)

It wasn't just copyright infringement. It was plagiarism.
If I rip off gcc and sell it as my own compiler, it won't even help me if I distribute it as GPLv3. No proper attribution = plagiarism.

transalted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30452022)

I've heard of transfats, but TFA now refers to transalts?

Chinese government will execute the vendor (1, Insightful)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452034)

Sadly, I'm not sure I'm joking.

Re:Chinese government will execute the vendor (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452358)

PRC, for the most part, has rule of law, and crimes for which you can be executed are explicitly enumerated. While they do use capital punishment for some things that no-one else does (e.g. large-scale fraud which incurs a lot of aggregated damage on the victims), I'm fairly certain that copyright infringement isn't on that list.

Re:Chinese government will execute the vendor (3, Informative)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452490)

Considering how much copyright infringement goes on in China, it's pretty safe to assume they don't execute people for it.

kdawson on Google News (2, Interesting)

twosat (1414337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452070)

This is the first time that I read a post on Slashdot from a link on Google News - kdawson you're doing well!

Maybe an insider job? (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452072)

Could it be that Plurk bribed MS's contractor to pirate itself, hoping to generate massive publicity from this incident, and they did get it? Plans within plans within plans...

Re:Maybe an insider job? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452130)

Unless Plurk was asked to hand over their code, I don't see how Plurk would have advanced Knowledge of MS Hiring a chinese contractor for that purpose.

Re:Maybe an insider job? (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452244)

See parent post title. What part of "insider job" do you not understand?

Re:Maybe an insider job? (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452558)

I understood it was JS code ripped straight from their website. So in fact, they *did* hand it over, in a manner of speaking.

Especially with client-side stuff, everyone copies everyone else, be is CSS, JS routines, HTML themes etc. And with Web 2.0 pushing the functionality away from the server side where it's relatively better protected (i.e. you only see the response, not the processing internals), it'll only become more rampant.

It would be interesting to see how much of Plurk's original matched other existing works online.

Frakkin link it!! (1)

euxneks (516538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30452248)

Goddammit PCMAG. Where the frak is the microsoft post? All links in the article are back to PCMAG articles!!
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