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Facebook faced with a serious legal challenge

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Turns out that Facebook might be the biggest piece of homework copying in history.  Turns out there is an allegation that Mark Zuckerberg stole the code for Facebook from Harvard:

A long-standing dispute over the origin of Facebook looks set to haunt the growingly popular social networking service as it heads towards an IPO.

A lawsuit due to come before the US Federal Court later this month alleges that Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the original code for Facebook

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accuse Zuckerberg of stealing the source code, design, and business plan for Facebook in 2003 when he worked in the Harvard dorms as a programmer for their own tertiary education focused social-networking site HarvardConnect.com, now known as ConnectU. Source: The Ghost Of Zuckerberg?s Past May Haunt Facebook IPO

This reminds me of the Italian Job where one of the characters alleges that he invented Napster and it was stolen by his roommate while he was napping.  Regardless of art and life in spiral imitations, this is a big problem for Facebook.  And since this has been dragging on for three years, this isn’t a fly-by-night, get-rich-quick lawsuit.  You have to think that after the big investors have smacked Mark around for a while for not finding a way to resolve this sooner, it will be resolved in short order.  I’m guessing within three months.

If not, Facebook is going to die the most spectacular death the online world has ever seen.

Update: I was this on Valleywag as well.  Man this is going to be messy.  In discussing this with a friend tonight we agreed this isn’t about winning or losing, it’s how much it will cost to be made to go away.


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