Wednesday, June 17, 2009

May You Live In Interesting Times Online: Does China's Green Dam Includes Pirated Code?

May you live in interesting times on the Chinese internet: pre-installed filtering technology which is used to censor, a passionate opinion against it supported by a massive internet survey, and last but not least the very filtering software might be qualified as copyright infringement.
Of course I am talking about Green Dam: China wants its citizens to use pre-installed filtering software to avoid that they will be exposed to pornography and I assume also to texts that include words deemed a threat to the Chinese government. This censorship method China called Green Dam. Alexa Olesen of the Associated Press quoted an anonymous Chinese official saying that Green Dam is not compulsory, see here. However, I guess not pre-installing Green Wall might not be conducive for computer manufacturers that want to sell in China. Then again, Chen Weihua, reported in an unprecedented frank way 'Let's not allow the Green Dam software to block our way into the future' on China Daily about an opinion poll on, which showed that 90 percent of the people polled will not use Green Dam, read here. By the way: to stop all unwelcome information is not feasible for any government; the higher the dam the more forceful the water will stream out through the cracks.

Now, US software maker Solid Oak Software has sent cease and desist letters to computer manufacturers Dell and Hewlett-Packard, because it alleges that the Green Wall software includes code of which the graphical user interface (GUI) has the same look and feel as Solid Oak's Cybersitter software, which would constitute copyright infringement.

Isn't it ironical that the filtering software that could be used (maybe with different technology) against copyright infringements itself might be pirated?
Read Mark Hachman's article for, which links to many relevant articles about the same subject.

I was linking the expression 'May you live in interesting times' to the Wikipedia page about it. This is what Charles R. Stone has to say about it. Thanks Charles.

Charles R. Stone: "My vote for a possible Chinese origin for "May you live in interesting times," if indeed we should be looking for a Chinese source, is: 多事之秋。It's found a few times in classical histories and Ming dynasty novels, as a Google search will show. (Insert pages of footnotes.) The problem, of course, is that it's not used as an imprecation in these sources. It figuratively means something like "a season of much trouble." The step to "may you live in a season of much trouble," or "may you live in interesting times," is not a big one. In any event, it seems more plausible than "It's better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period" as the Wikipedia link speculates."


Anonymous said...

Is it the code that is copied? Or they are just saying the GUI has the same "look and feel." The second one is much more difficult to win on.

Think about the programs you use on your computer. A lot of them out there are the same these days. Much of the GUI is not protectable as functional, scenes a faire, originality, etc. I wonder how closely these two systems look and feel.

IP Dragon said...

True, then it would be much more difficult to prove. Based on the articles I would say that Solid Oak Software argues that the look and feel is the same.

Thanks for your reaction. You seem to have experience in this field? Also in China. If so, please let me know.

Danny Friedmann
IP Dragon 知識產權龍