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CBS hit for $1.2m over Chinese censorware

Net sitter firm files chicken feed damages demand

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Solid Oak Software has hit media giant CBS with a demand for $1.2m, after the media giant's tech subsidiary posted downloads of the Chinese government's Green Dam Youth Escort software.

Green Dam was the centrepiece of Beijing's abortive effort to force PC manufacturers to preload filtering software that would protect young Chinese from porn - and vile Western ideas such as democracy.

However, it quickly emerged that chunks of the package had been lifted from Solid Oak's Cybersitter package, including blacklists and documentation.

This week's complaint repeats these claims, saying that Green Dam lifted approximately 3000 lines of code from Cybersitter.

It goes on to allege "that CBS is responsible for distributing numerous copies of the infringing Green Dam software throughout the United States, China and elsewhere by making the infringing software available for download on its website ZDNet China."

In its complaint, it says CBS carried the software to "promote its website, generate web traffic and advertising revenues, and gain increased access to the vast Chinese-speaking market." The suit claims stats on ZDNet China showed Green Dam had been downloaded more than 31,000 times.

Solid Oak said it was seeking over $1.2m in damages - $39.99 per copy - as well as "injunctive relief to prevent CBS from further distribution of the infringing software."

Back in June when Green Dam first started to crack, Santa Barbara-based Solid Oak said it would seek an injunction against the Chinese developers, but it was inevitable that it would get more redress by going after PC vendors and distributors who had made the Chinese software available.

But in the world of tech lawsuits, $1.2m is chicken feed. The firm doesn't even seem to be claiming for distress, hurt feelings, etc., suggesting it genuinely reckons it has been damaged to the tune of $1.2m.

However, more legal action seems to be in the offing, with Solid Oak adding ominously that "this is the first lawsuit that Solid Oak has filed with respect to the infringement of its copyrights in CYBERsitter by the Green Dam program."

China eventually put the Green Dam effort on ice and then scaled it back - but that didn't stop PC vendors, including US manufacturers, from shipping the software anyway. ®

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