U.S. Software Company Claims Chinese Code Rip Off


The Chinese government has mandated that as of July 1, all PCs sold in the country have filtering software called Green Dam that blocks access to pornographic or violent sites.

Brian Milburn, founder and president of Solid Oak said that the company received an anonymous tip Friday that Green Dam contained old code from the company's CYBERSitter software.

Bryan Zhang, CEO of Jinhui's Computer System Engineering Co., which developed the Green Dam software, flatly denied Milburn's allegations and even told The Wall Street Journal, "That's impossible."

But Milburn said that after comparing programs, employees at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company found code for news it posted on its site from 2004, including advice about spyware, which Milburn said was just starting to make the rounds on the Internet.

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"We stopped writing about this and updates to our software and other things in 2004 and their code was dated May 5, [2009]" he said. "It looks like they decrypted the code, then recrypted it using their own mechanism and changed the file extension."

Milburn also said that Zhang claims he has included image recognition technology in Green Dam, an idea that Milburn finds hard to believe.

"Image recognition technology is kind of like the Holy Grail," he said. "It's been tried and it's so prone to error. A lot of people and venture capital has been wasted on trying to make it work."

Meanwhile, Milburn said he has has been thinking about getting an injunction or taking other legal action to stop PC makers from including Green Dam software.

"We're trying to figure out where we are going since we just found out about this three days ago," he said. "I'm aware that we have an uphill battle."

Still, Milburn said he is grateful for support that has poured in from around the world, especially China. He said that he has been getting e-mails from concerned people who have translated Chinese newspaper articles into English. Some of the articles were particularly helpful since they had comments from Zhang that have not been published outside the country. Milburn said he is definitely not going down without a fight.

"They're sending code to OEM manufacturers in the U.S. saying they want this on the computers shipped to China," he said. "Well, say the Chinese said that they wanted Vista on computers imported into the company, and then pirated copies are sent to Dell or HP. Then you ship those computers containing Vista. I don't think Microsoft would stand by and let this happen. It's the same principle."