US developer: China's Green Dam steals our code

Summary:This Green Dam story just keeps getting weirder. First, China issues this mandate that all new PCs will have to have software called Green Dam-Youth Escort preinstalled.

This Green Dam story just keeps getting weirder. First, China issues this mandate that all new PCs will have to have software called Green Dam-Youth Escort preinstalled. It's claimed the software is just a porn filter, even though China runs the powerful Great Firewall of China, already.

Then researchers reported that the software's data files contain long lists of political keywords. A lawsuit was filed in China to stop the edict.

Now, net nanny developer Solid Oak says Green Dam includes pieces of its Cybersitter software, apparently purloined by Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co., the government-aligned developer. This has been confirmed by University of Michigan researchers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Solid Oak says it will go to U.S. court to stop computer makers from shipping with Green Dam.

Solid Oak's president, Brian Milburn, said he will seek an injunction preventing U.S. companies from shipping computers with the Chinese software.

[Solid Oak president Brian] Milburn said Solid Oak received an anonymous email Friday stating that Green Dam may contain parts of his company's code. He said engineers at the 15-person software maker, which is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., spent the morning comparing the two programs. Similarities they found include a list of CyberSitter serial numbers and an update that makes the software compatible with an old version of CyberSitter, he said.

"I am 99.99% certain that if not the entire program at least a good proportion of it is stolen CyberSitter code," says Mr. Milburn.

Copyright experts say Solid Oak probably won't be able to stop the sale in U.S. court.

"It's not a violation of U.S. copyright" law if the computers are only sold in China, said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard University Law School. "The question would have to be resolved in a Chinese court under Chinese law."

But the situation adds to the repugnance of Green Dam. Dell and HP could use the fact that the software may in fact be pirated to justify to China their inability to comply with the edict. They should push for a stay of the order in Chinese court until the copyright issue is sorted out.

Topics: China, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Legal, Software

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