Microsoft shuts down China microblogging site containing stolen code

Natalie Apostolou
17 Dec 2009

Microsoft has indefinitely suspended its new China microblogging service, MSN Juku, following allegations that a large chunk of the code was lifted from Canadian startup Plurk.

Plurk’s biggest market is in Taiwan, followed by Indonesia, the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Microsoft is investigating the charges, but says the site was developed for MSN China by a third-party vendor.

“At Microsoft, we take intellectual property very seriously. We make our (intellectual property) available for others to license, and we license other people's intellectual property as appropriate when we use it in our products,” Microsoft said in a statement early this week.

Yesterday however, Microsoft issued a lengthier statement confirming Plurk’s allegations following discussions with its third-part supplier.

“The vendor has now acknowledged that a portion of the code they provided was indeed copied. 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,” Microsoft said.

Plurk claims that 80% of the MSN Juku codebase “appears to be stolen directly from Plurk.”

The Plurk service itself is Twitter-esque with a 140 character limit. The company’s New Zealand based spokesperson Dave Thompson, said Plurk was “inspired by Twitter” but added that it had features that aren’t currently available on the rival service.

“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,” Plurk said in its blog post.

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