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Chinese Mixi clone November 27, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Internet, IT, Japan.

ITmedia had an article (in Japanese) about a Chinese Mixi clone that has been found.

I guess that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….

Is this the first Japanese website cloned by the Chinese?

The most hilarious bit is when the author had a peek at the source, and apparently found this:

<TD align=middle background=”http://img.life365.com/mycc/0912/right_menu.gif” style=”BACKGROUND: url(http://img.mixi.jp/img/right_menu.gif) no-repeat”><div align=”right”><img src=”http://img.life365.com/mycc/0912/right_menu.gif” width=”59″ height=”19″></div></TD>

(my emphasis)

So, not just ripping off the design, but also freeloading on the Mixi server too, eh.

Of course, clones have been a part of the Japanese internet scene too, lest we forget. Perhaps most notriously, some of Livedoor’s Web2.0-ish services were basically rip-offs of more well known sites from across the pond.


1. Durf - November 28, 2006

So how long will it take for mixi.jp to replace that right_menu.gif with an image blaring FREE TIBET or INDEPENDENT TAIWAN or something? ‘Cuz that’s what I’d do if I wanted the Chinese government to actually do something about the offending site.

2. fukumimi - November 28, 2006

Well, I’d guess that it wouldn’t be much of a hassle for the web developer to get off their lazy arses and correct that glitch, I’m sure they’re not saving that much bandwidth by pointing to Mixi.

But it does raise an interesting question, ie if cloners and others start pointing to other sites and displaying external “content” on user web browsers, a) will the original content owners ever know, and b) what can they really do about it?

As for the suggestion of replacing images, I’m pretty sure what would happen is that the Great Firewall of China will be reconfigured to block the entire Mixi domain, rather than actually doing anything about clone sites, given the proliferation of clone sites in China. (There are Chinese and China resident users on Mixi, who would then be prevented from using Mixi and would have to go elsewhere, net result is that Mixi loses out whilst the cloners continue as before)

3. Shantanu - November 29, 2006

You raise an interesting question re. “original” content owners finding their material elsewhere without any control…In a way, they should not complain because once it is in the public domain, it would be futile to attempt to restrict it…and if it was not meant for reproduction, why put stuff on a blog/public site anyway?

4. fukumimi - November 29, 2006

I think this is the first time I have seen someone (probably inadvertently) freeloading (though obviously not to any real material extent) by pointing image URLs to the cloned site. A clone and a parasite at the same time.

I don’t think there are any laws (at least in Japan) which explicitly ban parasite behaviour of this sort, after all, it is just a link (albeit one that is loaded every time a user accesses the clone site)

I guess graphical UI components are as much “content” as blog posts or photographs.

The splogs (spam blogs) out there which blatantly scrape content from other blogs and have an ugly amount of advertising on their pages can probably be deemed to be illegally reproducing copyright material on their sites, but what about this case? The data is not being removed from the original site’s servers by the cloner.

With regards to putting content available in the public domain, printed media has done it for centuries, and the legal ownership issues regarding content are fairly clear, and I personally don’t believe that internet content should be treated any differently, whether it be prose, visual arts, music, or any other form of expression.

The only real change is that the nature of the internet and its underlying technical infrastructure makes it much easier to steal and potentially exploit other peoples’ property.

People willing to publish under Creative Commons licenses or some other license are free to do so, but I don’t think it is right to force people to give up rights they have to their creative works just because it is published on the internet rather than a newspaper or magazine. I personally am tempted to go the CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License route for this blog just to make my position regarding content copyright clear for all to see.

To be honest, I believe fair use is sufficient to cover any non-exploitative usage of much of the content available on the web in any case.

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