Plurk Weighing 'Options' Over Microsoft's Web Code Theft

Plurk co-founder says 'responsibility' and 'accountability' not the same.

Not good enough. Earlier this week, Microsoft pulled its Chinese Twitter competitor and apologized after being notified that the third-party developer that created it had stolen as much as 80 percent of the code along with the user interface from another microblogging service.

But that apparently wasn't enough for Plurk, the microblogging service done wrong. Theft is theft, after all, apology or not.

"We are currently looking at all possibilities on how to move forward in response to Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) recent apology statement," Alvin Woon, co-founder of Plurk, said in a statement released overnight.

"We are still thinking of pursuing the full extent of our legal options available due [to] the seriousness of the situation. Basically, Microsoft accepts responsibility but they don't offer accountability," Woon's statement continued.

Microsoft's latest code-theft brouhaha exploded on Monday, when tiny microblogging startup Plurk, in a blog post, accused the software giant of stealing both the smaller firm's look and feel but also large amounts of code for its recently introduced MSN Juku microblogging service in China.

Caught apparently off guard, Microsoft immediately pulled the allegedly offending service.

A few hours later, the software titan responded further by saying it had verified the accuracy of Plurk's allegations, but that the transgression was committed by a third-party developer that had been contracted to create MSN Juku -- and Microsoft officially apologized.

While pulling MSN Juku and apologizing for the misappropriation of code may have assuaged some of Plurk's anger, however, that did not make things right.

"This event wasn’t just a simple matter of merely lifting code; Due to the nature of the uniqueness of our product and user interface, it took a good amount of deliberate studying and digging through our code with the full intention of replicating our product user experience, functionality and end results. This product was later launched and heavily promoted by Microsoft with its big marketing budget," Woon's statement said.

Remedies unclear

However, Woon's statement did not spell out any remedies that Plurk might seek at this point.

"This was in clear violation of the vendor’s contract with the MSN China joint venture, and equally inconsistent with Microsoft’s policies respecting intellectual property," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.

"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," the Microsoft spokesperson said.

The gaffe was the second in just over a month involving the use of someone else's code inappropriately in a Microsoft product.

In November, Microsoft admitted that another third-party developer had used open source code in a Windows 7 download tool that was not properly licensed under the Gnu Public License version 2 (GPLv2), which governed the co-opted code. Microsoft brought the tool into compliance with GPLv2 and recently re-released it under the proper license.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.




Tags: Microsoft, Web, Plurk, code


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