Note to Startups: If you're going to steal from others... well, just don't steal from others

Curebit vs 37 Signals

The internet is rife with theft. People take content and concepts from others on a regular basis and pawn it off as their own. It’s so common that many websites (including this one) have given up on fighting content-scrapers, spammers, and intellectual property thieves altogether. If you can get by without being too-badly hurt by them, it often isn’t worth the fight.

Sometimes, however, it is so blatant that it cannot be ignored. Such is the case with Y Combinator startup Curebit who took design ideas and code directly from 37signals.

The startup just received $1.2 million in funding from Dave McClure’s 500 Startups fund and abruptly copied a good chunk of “inspiration” from 37signals’ product Highrise. 37signals was founded by Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried who are well-respected within the startup world.

Jolie O’Dell from VentureBeat describes the productivity company as, “not the most low-profile place from which to nab a little ‘inspiration.’”

The fallout is already starting and there is a battle brewing between the companies. The response from DHH was harsh and it seems to be only the beginning.

DHH Tweet

Curebit co-founder Allan Grant took to Hacker News, a Reddit-style news aggregator and discussion board run by Y Combinator, to try to clear things up. The comments indicate that things are far from getting cleared up and that 37signals might not be the only victim of theft for the sake of “A/B Testing” by Curebit.

Kinoma Curebit

Launching a startup is hard. It takes investments of time, money, energy, passion, brainpower, faith, and luck to make it work in an ultra-competitive environment during a down economy in an election year. The odds are stacked against everyone getting started, but there are those who have made it with less than a recent 7-digit investment to help it along.

Curebit and others who are willing to, for whatever reason or validation they feel is appropriate, steal directly from others without offering the slightest attribution are taking a risk of tanking before they get started. Invoking such phrases as “ghetto testing” or “shoestringing” will not change the fact that if you get caught, you’re going to lose more than you gained.

Don’t be lazy. Don’t be stupid. Be original. Not everyone can take a concept from someone else and turn it into a multi-billion dollar corporation poised to launch an IPO shortly.

Written by Lorie Wimble

Lorie is the "Liberal Voice" of Conservative Haven, a political blog, and has 2 astounding children. Find her on Google+ and Twitter.
SEE MORE ARTICLES BY "Lorie Wimble"

Related posts
Comments
  • http://twitter.com/AngelCeballos Angel Ceballos

    Wow so true, I agree with everything in this article because stealing code, images, ad ideas is not cool at all.

    Hard work pays off and taking shortcuts doesn’t isn’t something you should be proud of if it involves you stealing from a well know and respected startup. It’s like trying to steal code from Google, and than build a competitor search engine, it’s an epic fail on all levels.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/IP54XYCSNXH2YXS546QASYZC3M Dylan

      .OMG ,My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire young man Ronald who is the CEO of a MNC !they met via –S`eek W’ealthy.C óM .it is the largest and best club for wealthy people and their admirers to chat online. …you don’t have to be rich there ,but you can meet one , It’s worthy a try. You do not have to be rich or famous. ! Invoking such phrases as “ghetto testing” or “shoestringing” will not change the fact that if you get caught, you’re going to lose more than you gained.

  • http://twitter.com/ShalakoBooks Shalako Publishing

    Some of my e-books were free giveaways. When someone posted a free-download widget with my product, all I could do was to contact them and ask them to take it down. I guess these would be ‘content-scrapers.’ By giving away a freebie, they attract page-views, which is likely tied to affiliate advertising based on page-views and click-throughs. But when I raise the price again, as I inevitably must, they compete against me with my own product, for free. There are those who feel that this ultimately goes to sell more books, but that is far from the case for code, or copyrighted characters, original music, etc.

  • Daveiseager

    Technically you spent a little amount of time writing this short article with no depth and research, lifting this content/quotes from a couple of other websites instead of actually contacting these guys yourself for comment.. or even writing anything new or approaching the topic of code plagiarism in a different manner.  And you’re a day late. Sorry to say this, but its not that far (well, its still quite far) from the topic of the article to be honest.
    “Note to ['journalists']: If you’re going to [reblog] from others… well, just don’t [reblog] from others”

  • Tdrcomm

    I guess it also means that when you download a WordPress or Joomla theme for your site/blog/landing page, you better go the extra mile and tweek it enough so it doesn’t look like any one of the other thousands of companies that downloaded before you.

  • http://twitter.com/AngelCeballos Angel Ceballos

    I understand ideas can’t be patented, protected by copyright laws, intellectual property laws, and any legal matters, but guess I wasn’t clear enough during the moment I was posting my comment since I was in a rush. Thanks for clearing it up for everyone else Travela.

    The overall point was that stealing from others is not acceptable at any point, and being inspired by others is great, but not when something is completely ripped off without any credit given. 

    Scary world we live in, and it unfortunately happens way to often as noted in this case but at a larger scale. 

    – Angel