The below article published yesterday (1/25/16), certainly discusses a contentious issue. As of right now we do not have all of the facts, and this should not have been published until we researched more information to include information from all sides. All the information included below comes from a single Reddit thread created by one developer accusing another group of wrongdoing. There has also been some contention from claims by other parties to the veracity of the claims found below. We will look further into the issue and update this article with what we find. – Andrew Otton, Editor-in-Chief
It has since been updated below.
A programmer known as Codeusasoft has avowed on Reddit that a Steam Cleaner utility, which he created and had been on Steam Greenlight, was injudiciously removed from the service due to a copyright claim from Russian coders whom, he alleges, plagiarized his work. The utility had reached a top position on Greenlight and attained some popularity, enough to warrant the creation and announcement of new features underway on collaborative programming site GitHub, when a group of other developers who ran a similar utility began disparaging and defaming that of Codeusasoft. Apparently, they also began copying features from his GitHub account, and then pointed to the similarities in this code as a justification to DMCA the rival software.
Last night I received an email saying that a DMCA had been filed on the greenlight for Steam Cleaner and that the page had been banned, so following the proper channels submitted a counter notice, submitted the evidence the other developer was simply being malicious, even referenced the dates of my git pushes compared to the dates of their “new feature announcements”. Screenshots of their spam, screenshots of “their” code compared to mine to prove it had been ripped right off our repo and figured it be restored right away.
Only to be told, that our Greenlight would be reinstated in 14 days, if this “developer” living in Russia did not take legal action. And by submitting a DMCA against him for his stealing of my code, it would be considered harassment and not admissible
Codeusasoft goes on to warn users about the possibility of this happening to them, as Steam’s policy on DMCA claims is that a similar two-week suspension will be leveled even in cases where no actual legal action occurs. The potential for other malicious claimants to use that policy to attack their rivals or ideological opponents is worrisome, and hopefully Steam will review this policy and its effects in the future. For now, his Reddit thread has been locked by the moderators, and Codeusasoft has reached out to supporters on his Twitter, @Andrewmd5.
Many are skeptical to Codeusasoft’s claims against the other developer Zamuta, pointing out that he may not be the wronged party here. Some have indicated that the complaint registered by Zamuta against Codeusasoft includes a comparison of the code in question. Because of the nature of this issue, though, the matter in contention is not whether the code is similar, which everyone seems to agree on, but which developer originally conceived of the features and wrote said code.
In a russian-language post on pikabu.ru, Zamuta talks about the addition of certain functionalities to remain competitive with Codeusasoft’s product, but says that he was the one originally targeted with false plagiarism claims about these additions. He goes on to opine that the only reason his counterpart has been so successful in garnering support is due to a substantial social media following, and complaints on english-language Reddit. As a counterpoint to the re-reversed accusations of plagiarism, Codeusasoft maintains that, since he was the first to develop these functionalities, he could not have stolen the code as it would not have been written into Zamuta’s program yet. In turn, some point out that since Codeusasoft’s program was removed by Steam, this indicates an unfavorable ruling by their adjudicators.
Ultimately, accusations have been flying in both directions, and neither side has been seen to back down. Zamuta accuses Codeusasoft of using his popularity to garner support, while Codeusasoft says that many attacking him are sympathetic Russian developers. Neither side has strongly stated a case beyond sheer allegations, with pro-Codeusasoft commenters indicating the relevant dates, and pro-Zamuta commenters indicating the similarities in code. Until more information regarding these events comes out, please evaluate the evidence as it stands from a position of impartiality.