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Blast From the Future: Can You Plagiarize Something Meant to Be Copied?

Blast From the Future: Can You Plagiarize Something Meant to Be Copied?

Can you plagiarize something that’s meant to be copied?

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, blockchain researcher 0xKaden called out the controversial crypto project Blast essentially for stealing code and trying to pass it off as its own. In particular, Blast, a much-anticipated, but also highly criticized project that raised over $1 billion last year using what some have called manipulative marketing techniques, is accused of stealing work already published by Optimism, one of the largest Ethereum L2s.

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“Blast is really out here putting a BSL license on optimisms MIT code,” Kaden posted. “Does this mean ppl can’t fork optimism anymore because it’s licensed to blast??”

Kaden was referring to the permissive software license developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology that gives authors a copyright credit, but allows others to freely access and remix code — typically with attribution — and the Business Source License, which is not open-source.

Soon after, another pseudonymous blockchain sleuth, Pop Punk, posted screenshots comparing sections of Blast and Optimism’s code, which indeed were identical, apart from a few incidental tweaks, including a typo. “Hey Blast, It’s not very cash money of you to fork Optimism’s code, add a typo, remove a function, and then change the license,” Punk said on Twitter/X.

This is not the first time Blast has apparently crossed lines. It had a pedigree to brag about, including founder Tieshun “Pacman” Roquerre, the developer behind the extremely successful decentralized NFT exchange Blur, respected venture capital backers Paradigm and an innovative idea to offer users “native yield.” But Blast burst onto the scene in a storm of controversy.

When announced, the project had not shipped anything beyond a “one way” bridge that allowed people to deposit but not withdraw funds — they’d have to wait until February 2024, at the earliest. Further, users were sending funds to a five-key multi-signature wallet, where all the signers seemed to be connected to a single entity. It raised over $1.1 billion before hiring engineers.

Perhaps worse than this lax approach towards…

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