Microsoft China steals code, rips off Plurk site

Microsoft China appears to have not only ripped a popular site's design but some of their site code too.

Plurk, a popular social networking site in Asia, claims that Microsoft China has ripped off their service by "blatant theft of code, design, and UI elements". In a company blog posting a Plurk employee states "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."

It appears Plurk are correct, if you look at a screen shot below or even try and use Microsoft's "Hompy" service it's near identical to that of Plurk.

Plurk understand that many websites use a similar UI but they claim this isn't simply just a UI rip it's a code rip too. The blog post goes on to explain "If this was just a case of visual inspiration gone too far, we could probably have lived with it. We would have taken the time to reach out to Microsoft, get colour on the matter and try to amicably resolve it. That's not the case here. This is something far more sinister. On closer inspection, we found that MUCH of the codebase and data structures that Microsoft's MClub uses are identical snapshots of our code."

If the accusations are true then this is the second time in a month that Microsoft has been caught stealing code and using it illegally in their products. In early November blogger Rafael Rivera discovered that Microsoft illegally used GPLv2 code in a Windows 7 USB/DVD tool. Microsoft officials came clean and recently offered the tool for download alongside the tools source code.

Just how this one pans out remains to be seen, Microsoft officials were unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

Update: Microsoft have now taken the site offline. Microsoft officials confirmed the move in a statement, "because questions have been raised about the code base comprising the service, MSN China will be suspending access to the Juku beta feature temporarily while we investigate the matter fully".

Thanks to Dan for the news tip

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76 Comments

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Ohhh... Let me explain..
Intellectual property was invented to make a profit from anything you can think of. Attempts monopolists to control everything, so you can attach to the patent, cause as a mockery, and fear. You're fighting for freedom, right? And now, you want no one is using your dreary pile of information, which you call the code.

I laughed when i saw the var_B , var_C, reminds me of high school/university when i used to copy the code and changed the variables, they'll never know ... insane ... quite interesting to see it in real life situations being done, makes it hilarious ...

on a side note, kids do not plagiarize, or otherwise do it in China.

funny, I didn't see a Microsoft "Ameriica" in the title when someone in MS US center ripped off Win7 boot Tool code

guru said,
funny, I didn't see a Microsoft "Ameriica" in the title when someone in MS US center ripped off Win7 boot Tool code

That's because people are racist. Didn't know Tom Warren was though..

Oh please, grow up. If Microsoft UK did this then the title would be "Microsoft UK". We don't title it as "Microsoft US" as the company in American.

Tom W said,
Oh please, grow up. If Microsoft UK did this then the title would be "Microsoft UK". We don't title it as "Microsoft US" as the company in American.

Yea yea. We believe you..

You don't have to be sarcastic, it is common to mention the country when you are talking about a branch and not the main office. I have seen enough headlines here indicating Microsoft UK.

Good old microsoft, always breaking the law, and as usual microsoft is loved an adored and defended to the very end here on neowin.

Well, it was third party working for Microsoft in this case. Microsoft shares the responsibility of course, but obviously it doesn't reflect the company culture.

Well, it was third party working for Microsoft in this case. Microsoft shares the responsibility of course, but obviously it doesn't reflect the company culture.

Calling the previous event "stealing code" is harsh - it was a vendor, and Microsoft did the right thing when they found out about it. This incident seems much more serious, based on those JavaScript snippets. (IANAL though.)

Bruce Williams said,
Calling the previous event "stealing code" is harsh - it was a vendor, and Microsoft did the right thing when they found out about it. This incident seems much more serious, based on those JavaScript snippets. (IANAL though.)

It is what it is, harsh or otherwise Bruce.

Rafael said,
It is what it is, harsh or otherwise Bruce.


If you believe the statement copied below is "fair and balanced" with respect to that first incident (which I believe you first discovered?), then we'll have to agree to disagree.

" this is the second time in a month that Microsoft has been caught stealing code and using it illegally in their products."

I am of course far from unbiased myself - I don't deny it.

Bruce Williams said,
If you believe the statement copied below is "fair and balanced" with respect to that first incident (which I believe you first discovered?), then we'll have to agree to disagree.

" this is the second time in a month that Microsoft has been caught stealing code and using it illegally in their products."

I am of course far from unbiased myself - I don't deny it.

It is fair and balanced because they have been "caught". Also they "had" to do the right thing. GPL gave them no other choice. You might argue that they could have stopped the distribution of the USB tool but that doesn't change the fact that people who received it earlier are entitled to the source code.

how do we know it is not the other way around? How do that chinese site prove that it is their code but not MS code?

I've said this once and I'll say it again. Code is code; its not about the code that should decide how an operating system, or software tool is used, but about the art behind it. There are 8 very famous sorting algorithms, and are available and are encouraged to be copied. Now that that is cleared up, in no way should ANYTHING be sold as is from a simple copy paste, UNLESS there is a new idea that EXTENDS that original copied idea (Also with the correct thanks to those that helped implement that company or persons process should be visible). Microsoft, here, simply changed a few function names around and tried to make it look like their own.

Check out plurks login box to the left of the landing page. Blue text fields and submit button, facebook rip-off? Perhaps they shouldn't be bringing attention to themselves.

Its a trap!

Maybe MS did it on purpose to get the companies to whine loud enough that China puts in laws protecting IP which MS can then use to go after Chinese companies.

Microsoft proably outsourced this to a contracter, and the contractor stole the code.
However, it still MS's fault, there the one's that will have to clean up this mess.

If this was in the US (or just about anywhere else in the world) I'd think it was a big issue, but it's China. Do they even have intellectual property laws?

So wait, website designs are copyrighted or something? If so then how the hell does most of the web get away with it?

GP007 said,
So wait, website designs are copyrighted or something? If so then how the hell does most of the web get away with it?

Design is a grey area.. But outright taking code can get you sued..

How do you get away with it ? The Majority of the internet is designed by people without the means to sue when their rights are infringed, simply don't know that it happened, or just don't care..

Also depending on where you are laws can vary.. for Example if I alter an image by 20%, which can be as easy as just re-sizing it, I've negated the copyright on it ( or at least such was the case when I went to school and took law ) .. So just changing a few colours, alter some code, viola, copyright free.

and yet businesses are trying to break their neck to do "business" in China. Say what you will about the "high" costs of doing business in the western world, you have alot of protections that would send you out of business otherwise.

I dont think the laws in China prohibit this, how else could they get away with all the obvious ripoffs that come out of that country?

You can cry about copyrights, IP, knockoffs, and stealing in china...its the wild wild west over there (wild wild east :P)

Wow, even well known companies rip off other products in China.

mahahahah i just ripped your code...

Ripping the rippers ftw.

Wow, even well known companies rip off other products in China.

mahahahah i just ripped your code...


Ripping the rippers' ripper ftw!

Wow, even well known companies rip off other products in China.

mahahahah i just ripped your code...


Ripping the rippers' ripper ftw

I is in your topics , stealing your Codez lol

Lol, China.


EDIT: Reminds me of the constant slamming Japan got in around the 60's-80's over their copying. It'll take some time before China works itself out of this rut too.

Kyang said,
Lol, China.


EDIT: Reminds me of the constant slamming Japan got in around the 60's-80's over their copying. It'll take some time before China works itself out of this rut too.


China maybe, but this is just a Chinese branch of an American company. Microsoft Head Office in Redmond isn't going to let this fly for very long now that it's public.

Kyang said,
Reminds me of the constant slamming Japan got in around the 60's-80's over their copying. It'll take some time before China works itself out of this rut too.

How ironic, What allowed the Japanese to be successful (copying/cloning) they now try to stop everyone else doing, with DRM, rootkits, proprietary formats etc etc!

dvb2000 said,
How ironic, What allowed the Japanese to be successful (copying/cloning) they now try to stop everyone else doing, with DRM, rootkits, proprietary formats etc etc!

This is call learning.

This is how human evolved to where we are now.

We are copy machine all our life. That is why there is such a thing as school.