Those End-User Licence Agreements on software exist for a reason: to prevent licenced code from unauthorised use. This was true for design software company Autodesk recently when it appeared that a software engineer from Chinese competitor firm ZWSoft had stolen their code. Both companies develop technical drawing, modelling and drafting tools used by civil and mechanical engineers as well as architects to model parts, structures and design building plans. It appeared that ZWCAD+ the software made by ZWSoft was partly developed using code stolen from Autodesk’s competing AutoCAD design software. The Chinese firm blamed the software engineer for acting on his own, saying that their top management didn’t know about the code pilfering during ZWCAD+’s development until it was discovered just recently.
Management Made Big Claims
Shortly before the code theft discovery, ZWSoft’s top brass stood up against the market-leading Autodesk during a copyright infringement lawsuit case, boldly claiming that all their software was open-sourced and licensed, and that the lawsuit was just for anti-competitive reasons. Thanks to the code theft revelation, ZWSoft have had to apologise and are placing blame squarely on one software engineer, suggesting that top management wasn’t aware of the events. Both ZWSoft and the offending engineer will have to pay dearly for their mistake as ZWCAD+, by Autodesk’s demand, will be removed from sale in all markets, whilst the engineer will likely lose his job.
Judging by the press statement, it seems that ZWCAD+ users will have to stop using the product, and downgrade to the Classic version of the software while they wait for ZWCAD 2017 to be released in autumn of 2016. Intellectual Property is still a big issue in today’s “copy-paste” world, and this situation proves that professional software development is just as vulnerable. Code licensing exists for a reason – intellectual property rights apply just as much to software as they do to anything else, and what someone would consider a “quick copy paste” could be violating agreements, which end up costing millions of Rands.
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Author: Matthew de Neef
Date originally published: 24/12/15