Facebook has been working on a new feature called "Related Photos" which will display similar photos next to a photo your are viewing based on who has uploaded the photo and name tags used in it.
However, interestingly a Indian Startup called Lifeblob’s founder has accused Facebook of blatantly copying the feature from the site. The accusation which was done in a post by Lifeblob’s founder Pranav Bhasin on his personal blog (read here), says this (notes added by me):
With this supposed innovation, facebook will now start showing other photos of people who are face-tagged in a photo next to it. The application feature addition is designed to drive users to explore additional photos that may be of interest based on the photo they’re currently viewing, thereby further personalizing the experience (and increasing page views).
Just to set the record straight, we have had this feature ( and a lot more ) at http://www.lifeblob.com for over a year now and facebook has blatantly copied it. Every time you upload a photo on lifeblob, a recommendation engine not only looks at the face tags, but also the other information associated wtih (sic) your photo to show you photos that are closely related around it.So when you upload your graduation day photos, we discover other photos of your graduation day and show it next to your photo. What facebook has done is picked up this idea and launched a simple version of it that only uses face tags. Bravo!!
Pravin has also posted a screenshot which demonstrates the similarity of the feature on both Facebook and Lifeblob, which can be seen below.
The accusation in itself sounds pretty straightforward, however, there are this is nothing new in what Facebook is doing and there have been several times when they have cloned features from Friendfeed and Twitter too in the past, remember the like feature in Facebook, this was what came from Friendfeed, along with some design changes to the site which made it look similar to Twitter.
However, neither of these companies have started to accuse Facebook of theft and Facebook even went ahead and acquired Friendfeed.
Inspiration is definitely a good thing, however, this accusation of theft may not hold in a court of law. First thing to note here is that Lifeblob does not have any patent for their features and even if they had, they would not be able to sue Facebook in US if they had a Indian patent.
All said and done, I do feel that if Facebook did come out with this feature based on inspiration from Lifeblob, they might not come out and say it outright. And Lifeblob in itself might not be able to claim a intellectual theft in a court of law, so this accusation will remain just that.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you think that Facebook really copied the feature from Lifeblob or this is just another thing anyone could do?