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Microsoft admits contractor copied third party code for new social media site
Posted on 16-Dec-2009 09:47. | Tags Filed under: News.

Microsoft Corp has released a statement regarding information that has been circulating on the Internet about its new Juku feature for MSN China.

The accusation came from Plurk, a micro-blogging utility that posted in their company blog "Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but blatant theft of code, design, and UI elements is just not cool, especially when the infringing party is the biggest software company in the world. Yes, we’re talking about Microsoft."

"We were first tipped off by high profile bloggers and Taiwanese users of our community that Microsoft had just launched a new Chinese microblogging service that looked eerily similar to Plurk. Needless to say we were absolutely shocked and outraged when we first saw with our own eyes the cosmetic similarities Microsoft’s new offering had with Plurk. From the filter tabs, emoticons, qualifier/verb placement, Karma scoring system, media support, new user walkthroughs to pretty much everything else that gives Plurk its trademark appeal, Microsoft China’s offering ripped off our service."

The similarities go on - including code behind the scenes.

Microsoft started an internal investigation and in less than 24 hours found the third party contractor working on their own service had indeed copied a portion of the code they provided.

The company says "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."

"When we hire an outside company to do development work, our practice is to include strong language in our contract that clearly states the company must provide work that does not infringe the intellectual property rights of others. We are a company that respects intellectual property and it was never our intent to have a site that was not respectful of the work that others in the industry have done."

Access to the Juku beta has been suspended indefinitely.

Microsoft issued an apology to Plurk and will be reaching out to them directly to explain what happened and the steps being taken to resolve the situation.

In the wake of this incident, Microsoft and the MSN China joint venture will be taking a look at their practices around applications code provided by third-party vendors.

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