CyberSitter’s Solid Oak Sues CBS, ZDNet China Over Green Dam

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Solid Oak Software—developers of the CyberSitter suite of parent controls and content filters for PCs—has filed suit against ZDNet China and its parent company CBS Interactive for distributing China’s “Green Dam” Internet filtering system. In the suit, Solid Oak claims Green Dam pilfered about 3,000 lines of code from CyberSitter…and now it wants about $1.24 million plus $150,000 per infringed work and 500,000 Chinese yuan for violations of Chinese copyright law.

The suit was filed earlier this week in a Los Angeles district court. In the suit, Solid Oak alleges that two Chinese companies—with the support of the Chinese government—stole code from Solid Oak software programs and incorporated it into the Green Dam filtering system. The suit characterizes ZDNet China and its parent company CBS Interactive as will participants in the infringement by offering Green Dam as a free download from its Web sites, thereby assisting in the distribution of pirated material. Solid Oak’s suit cited figures published on the ZDNet Asia site claiming the software had been downloaded 31,000 times.

Earlier this year, China attempted to mandate Green Dam be installed by default on all new PCs sold in China, ostensibly to protect Chinese youth from pornography and other inappropriate content on the Internet. The move also raised cries of censorship, since the software was found to also block information the Chinese government believes to be politically sensitive.

According to the suit, Green Dam contains 2,972 lines of code from CyberSitter, including two “smoking gun” files that actually name Solid Oak’s CyberSitter software as their origin.

To date, Solid Oak has not sued any other distributors of China’s Green Dam software.