SuperGu Copyrights Pligg Code, Sends C&D

Digg this entry here.

In recent weeks Pligg has received two letters from SuperGu (SG) and their law firm. The first letter stated that Pligg’s template yget infringed on SuperGu’s copyright. At first we wondered how could this be since SuperGu has never released any code and the beta code they did release (SuperGu 1.3) was a template that was ported to be used with Meneame as a base. For those not familiar with Meneame, Pligg forked from it over a year ago. Meneame is based on the Affero General Public License (that’s why Pligg uses it, too). The beta that SG released would have fallen under this license, also.

Some of the claims SuperGu made was that they held copyrights to the following features: 1) Pagination (the next and previous page buttons) – SG claimed that Pligg’s pagination is too similar to theirs. 2) “Powered by Pligg” – SG claimed that the verbiage is too similar to their “Powered by SuperGu” so we have to remove it. 3) RSS feed icon – Yes, SG claimed they owned the copyright to the orange RSS feed icon. After some research we found that Mozilla actually owns the rights to it. These are just a few of the many claims SG made in their first letter sent to Pligg. Overall, there were almost 15 so called “copyright infringements.”

Pligg’s law firm sent SG a letter back a few days later asking for proof of copyright. It has now been over a week and we received another letter. Let me take you back a few days. After sending letter back to SG’s first letter we came across some files that were publicly accessible on supergu.com but have since been removed. There was one very interesting file that got my attention called ‘notes.txt’. The contents of ‘notes.txt’ are copied below. The only change is that we removed his email address.

Alex,

Thank you for working on this project!

If you would be so kind…

1. Please use my files located here: http://www.hostcity.com/files/ as I have
modified them to suit my needs. The meneamesg.zip file is my version of
meneame, converted into English. The pligg-9.1.zip file has been modified
also. I’ve deleted the templates I am not interested in. The template to
clone is ‘yget’.

2. Pligg history: At its core, Pligg is built on Meneame. The main difference
is Pligg added the Smarty templating system. I DO NOT NEED SMARTY as I will
NOT be sharing this software with anyone. Please do NOT add Smarty to my
version of Meneame as I do not need it. Thanks.

I am only interested in cloning the ‘Yget’ template found in Pligg here:
pligg/templates/yget/

3. Your mission is to clone the yget template including it’s functionality
(ajax, javascript, images, css) and adapt it to meneamesg.

I do not want to lose any of meneamesg’s functionality at this time, so
please be careful to comment and note any necessary changes. I understand
there are differences between Pligg and Meneamesg, and I wish to maintain
the meneamesg functionality as much as possible.

4. Please comment php code and make as many notes as you can, thanks.

5. I’ve moved some things around like the sidebar from right to left, etc.
Please look at my sample image located here:
http://www.hostcity.com/files/newsite.jpg.

6. The opening page should display ‘Register’ instead of ‘Login’ as
denoted in the newsite.jpg image. The ‘Register’ dialog box should read:
“Every article on this web sitewas submitted and voted on by its members.
Join us to submit, discuss,and promote the news that’s important to you!”

7. Please please do NOT contact anyone at pligg.com or pligg.com/forum for
help or questions about this project. Thanks.

If you have any questions, please email me. I will do my best to quickly
respond to your inquiries.

Once again, thanks for assisting me with this project!

Sincerely,

James Phelps
http://www.hostcity.com
http://www.flickboy.com (my pligg reference site)
http://www.sortby.us (meneamesg ref site)

Yes, you read that write. James Phelps, the SuperGu “owner” has hired someone to copy the template he just sent us a Cease and Desist over.

Now that you’ve seen this lets move on to the second letter Pligg received from SG. This letter was received after finding the notes.txt file copied above. The second letter received from SG contained a photocopy of the copyright form and the copyrighted SG material.

Lets take a look at the copyright document and see when SG created this so called “copyrighted material”

Notice that the work creation date was in 2005. Also note that date of publication of Jan. 1st 2006. Both of these dates were made up and SG must have lied on this copyright form. Meneame released their code, which the old SuperGu was based off of, in December of 2005. SuperGu didn’t even come into existence until mid-2006. The first Published date of SuperGu’s work was late Summer 2006, months after Pligg had been in development using the Mollio (mollio-beat) template. Now lets get to the good part. Lets see what SG spent so much time and effort on that they felt the need to copyright. If you take a look pages 8-18 in the PDF below you will see that SuperGu has filed a copyright for Pligg’s CSS code!

The code SuperGu claims to copyright is a direct copy and paste from this changeset on Pligg’s Source forge log http://svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/pl…89&view=markup

Remember, SG has never released any code so how can they claim that we copied their CSS code when their code has never been released to anyone?? Another thing, the code in the C&D letter includes many code snip-its that Pligg coders personally wrote. Pligg has been using a variation of this CSS since the conception of Mollio-beat template on 4/19/2005 http://www.pligg.com/forum/showthread.php?t=643
This template and it’s CSS (which is most of the CSS in the C&D letter) was created by beatniak months before SG was ever thought of. If this doens’t convince than I don’t know what will.

We felt the need to make this public because this cease and desist is ridiculous and the copyright application is infringing on our, along with other web designers, work. Pligg has contacted the Free Software Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation about this case and we are seeking help from anyone who specializes in internet copyright and patents.

The following document includes all of the legal papers received by Pligg.
High quality (20.3 mb) PDF

* Rapidshare.com Mirror
* Megaupload Mirror
* Yousendit Mirror

Medium Quality (7.7 mb) PDF (right click, save as)

* Pligg.com Mirror