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Harvard newspaper subpoenaed in Facebook suit

The lawsuit against the popular college networking Web site includes a subpeona by the site's rival.

Harvard University's student newspaper has become entangled in a legal dispute between networking and social Web site and rival ConnectU.

ConnectU has subpoenaed The Harvard Crimson for materials related to the Web site's ongoing lawsuit against better-known competitor Facebook.

The subpoenas ask the newspaper to hand over all its correspondence, e-mails and interview notes with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that are related to the launch of Facebook, said ConnectU co-founder and recent Harvard graduate Tyler Winklevoss.

The Crimson reported this week that its president, Lauren Schuker, would not comply with the subpoenas, which require the newspaper to release all materials by Dec. 1.

According to reports, ConnectU has asked a U.S. district court in Boston to shut down Facebook, which has become enormously popular on college campuses nationwide. The company says about 85 percent of students at nearly 900 colleges using the service.

ConnectU filed the suit against Facebook last year, charging Zuckerberg with stealing the concept for his company from ConnectU's creators.

Winklevoss said that Harvard classmate Zuckerberg had worked for him on a service called Harvard Connection, which eventually morphed into ConnectU. Zuckerberg left Harvard Connection, and the creators of ConnectU learned about Zuckerberg's Facebook from a Crimson article last year, Winklevoss said.

"We were just stunned," he said.

A Facebook representative called the Crimson subpoenas "another development in a case that's been unfounded from the beginning." The company has filed a countersuit charging ConnectU with making false claims.

The Palo Alto, Calif-based Facebook, which debuted almost two years ago, allows students to post and peruse personal profiles on its online classmates directory. ConnectU, based in Greenwich, Conn., launched a few months after Facebook's introduction and has not caught on in the same way.