Code Thieves Strike Again

Code theft is on the rise as Alibre this week revealed that its design software was hijacked and is being illegally distributed as RaceCAD.

Theft of source code is back in the spotlight. Alibre, a software company based in Richardson, Texas, alleged this week that a former employee—after being terminated—has begun illegally distributing a product called "RaceCAD," which Alibre says is actually its product, Alibre Design. Alibres claim comes on the heels of the theft of source code for the video game Half Life.

"The program is being distributed on a Russian Web site," said J. Paul Grayson, CEO of Alibre. The alleged thief of Alibres source code has moved to Russia, following his termination, according to Grayson.

"We have had direct contact with the individual involved, who has admitted to stealing the product," Grayson said. "Amazingly, he offered to settle with us and discontinue the English version if we gave him the Russian version. Clearly, the only thing he is going to get is a stiff penalty and likely jail time. Our message to those who have unknowingly used RaceCAD is that they must remove it from their systems immediately. Were offering a general amnesty to those in Russia who unwittingly downloaded the illegal product and will allow them to use a legal version of Alibre Design for a period of time."

Alibre would not release the name of the alleged code thief.

According to Grayson, the alleged thief made "some minor modifications" to the product before distributing it. Grayson also said that currently the software is being distributed for free, but that messages from the individual in question have suggested that RaceCAD may soon go on sale for $200.

"We are in contact with the local police and with the FBI," Grayson said. "But to tell you the truth, its very hard to take any action in cases like this. Above all, we would like people not to go get the product." A

In addition, Alibre has contacted the ISP hosting the Russian Web site distributing the software. Alibre has also posted Google advertisements in both English and Russian to warn those who use the search term RaceCAD, that the software is being illegally distributed.

Alibre also claims that part of the illegal distribution is source code from partners Spatial Corp., a US company that is a division of Dassault Systemes SA, which is based in France; UK firm D-Cubed Ltd.; and the OpenDWG Alliance, based in the US.

Dassault Systemes makes a modeling kernel called ACIS. "RaceCAD is not an ACIS licensee, yet their application is based on the ACIS modeling kernel," said Michael Payne, CEO of Spatial. "Clearly RaceCADs use of ACIS is illegal, not to mention the blatant theft of Alibre Design, and [those responsible for the theft] can be sure we will be working with Alibre to pursue them to the full extent of the law."

Alibres Grayson also said that the alleged code thief was sloppy about modifying the original programming and left key signatures of Alibre Design in the code, which at least one analyst agrees with.

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