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Mocha pulled off the Net

Bowing to an outcry, a freelance programmer pulls a tool off the Internet that could allow code from Java applets to be taken without permission.

Bowing to an outcry from fellow developers, a freelance programmer this week pulled a tool off the Internet that could allow unscrupulous programmers to take code from Java applets without permission.

The reaction to Mocha, which was first reported by CNET last week, came after hundreds of concerned developers flooded the tool's creator, Hanpeter van Vliet, with email. The developers feared that Mocha might allow code from their applets to be lifted by programmers and reused in other applets.

Ironically, Vliet will release a new program, dubbed Crema, later this week that acts essentially as a prophylactic against Mocha.

Mocha is a Java decompiler, or a tool that allows programmers to translate the byte code of standard Java applets into source code, which programmers then could freely reuse in applets of their own. The equivalent of a secret key to applets, Mocha might have caused legal problems down the road as more Java developers begin to seek copyright or trademark protection for their programs.

"At the request of many concerned Java developers Mocha has been withdrawn to reconsider its implications for the Java software market," states a posting on Vliet's Web site.

Vliet, who could not be reached for comment, also posted notice on his site that he will release Crema this week. In programmers' parlance, that's known as a Java obfuscator, which effectively scrambles the source code from applets so that programmers can't reuse decompiled code.

Last week, Vliet had defended his program as a tool that could help developers recover deleted Java source code, but he conceded that the potential for abuse of Mocha by unscrupulous programmers exists.

This week, Vliet has opened up the fate of Mocha to the democratic process, allowing visitors to his Web site to vote on whether Mocha should be reintoduced on the Net.

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