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Outsourcing encourages theft?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/32730.html

I have no personal informed comments on that, and everyone should be aware that The Register is an IT Tabloid, but I wonder if anyone else has thoughts like this.

Alex
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

He is inferring a cause-effect from a simple correlation. Sorry, that just doesn't cut it.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I do not even know where to begin.

The central crux of this guy's argument is that outscourcing the work to places like India is cheap because the developers are using pirated software.

His main premise for arriving at this conclusion is that the %age of sales from the region vs downloads for his piece of software is lower than the rest of the world.

I have an issue with the premise. There could be a whole lot of reasons why people download the software and don't buy.

It might be because it does not suit whatever local home grown solutions they have to make it talk to.

It might be usability... maybe they want it to support Hindu

It might be cost/benefit... they look at the benefit and decide that instead of spending the equivalent of 5 developers annual salaries on a piece of software to be used by one developer, it is more effective to just employ the said five developers.

Maybe, and indeed maybe, they are using pirated versions of his software.

To jump to conclusions like the author does though, is both irresponsible and dangerous.

Just my £0.03 worth

Tapiwa
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

The reason I say this is the same pirating I see going on in corporate Asia is no different than the ones in corporate North America. With the proper laws you can fine outsourced companies just as well as you can the company down the street. In the end these piracy will catch up with you, it's just a matter of time. Also, I have found most licensing expenses are tiny compare to training cost, site license contract negotiation, hiring the right staff, configuration, and usage maintainence (you have to call vendors for support--paying hours of support time). Companies in Asia or southern asia are especially ill-equipped to deal with software due to language barriers and they have to pay for premium western technicians or pay even more support overhead than north american companies. And piracy can only help to deprive you of an important source of authoritive information--your software vendor. If one claims that companies like Hitachi is being competitive by pirating Microsoft products.. then that someone has to get his head out of the sand and look around a little harder.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

One thing the guy who wrote the article doesn't realize is that most people in India don't have a credit card.

There is plenty of software I would gladly biuy if only it were possible to do it. I don't have a credit card so I am forced to pass on a lot of programs I would otherwise buy.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Li-fan Chen, you make a very strong case. However, could it be that much piracy is taking place because the (low) cost in these places of the "bodies" needed to overcome lack of vendor support still makes their overall "cost of ownership" much less than properly licensed software?  IOW, they would just pay their staffers to beat on problems until resolved.

Considering how expensive most enterprise level development and administrative software packages are, and how little that the outsourcers charge, it makes sense that there's simply no room in the margins to pay $2-3000 or more per seat for a developer tool anyway.

My wild guess is that the IP theft is implicit, as in "how else would it work?"

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I've seen guys from an outsourcer blatantly steal source code from the site they were working at. Yes, Indian. Their company turned up afterwards doing every similar application in that city.


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Yep no British or American developer would ever re-use code from one site they worked on to another, nope, never nohow.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Simon, it wasn't their code they were re-using. Consultants from the Indian firm quite deliberately stole important software another company had developed.

To do this, they had to grab the source code from a machine they shouldn't have touched, and then they zipped it up and sent it to a hotmail account. Our sys admin found the evidence after the fact and they were sacked, but too late.


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

And you think either Americans or British are more honest?

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Hmm... I think the incentive is in place to statistically encourage more theft, at least as we define theft.  They're not evil, just if some weird alien overlords from another world employed you because you were cheap, you wouldn't have the same sensitivity to caring about their Property.  It just doesn't mean as much, a barrier to getting work done.  And it's not like the stuff really exists or isn't infinitely copyable at a minor cost of entropy.

I'm sure some are also aware that these companies aren't particuarly loyal to their own countrypeople, so loyalty isn't a factor.

sammy
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I'm confused, how does a contract to supply some service or deliverable make the contractor more likely to be crooked?

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Well, the BSA has power in the US and Western Europe, but not necessarily in Eastern Europe and most parts of Asia.

Well, that, and it's easier to buy off a judge in those places than it is here to get away with it.  In a lot of those places, it's easier and cheaper to pay off the judge than to pay the piper.  So overall, it's probably more likely that you can get away with piracy there. 

I'm not sure if that person's individual experience is exactly typical, however.  If we had some of those folks in India saying that they were using pirated software, it would start to show some real information.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Dear Flamebait,
                        Your comments about buying off judges are uncalled for.

                        In general piracy is more common in  developing countries because it (rightly or wrongly) is not viewed as serious a crime as it is in the West. The MS site gives details of the punishments for software piracy everywhere in the world. Frankly it would do better to leave some countries out, because it becomes clear that you can simply pay the fine and still make a good profit (rather like big companies destroying the environment in the States and UK, I think).

                        Other factors enter into it. The governments want the populace to become technologically savvy, and know that paying vast amounts of foreign currency for "intellectual property"  would make that infeasible, The big software companies know that if they crack down too hard they run the risk of users running to Open Source, and so prefer to use pirate software as a way of market penetration. Then you get the Catch 22, that a burgeoning pirate software industry, results in little legit software being on sale, so you end up getting the pirate software because there is no real choice. And of course, the service from software pirates is much, much better than that from the official sources, and you have no problem about returns.

In general the situation is that most businesses use legit software, thougn not always and certalinly not exclusively, wnilst a prrivate individual will only have licensed software that came with the machine in the first place.

The suggestion in the original article - that outsourcers have the edge because they don't pay licenses, seems lame to me. Most outsourcing is done by very large American companies to very large Indian companies, and I doubt if the developers tools referred to have any relevance to the projects. I suspect the free downloads are from amateur programmers who are unlikely to be making a decent living, and there is the factor I referred to above of the diifficulties of getting a credit card, and in some cases of exchange controls.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

At the moment there's a serious crisis in the media industry. There's just too many providers in the content/news market while the cake has not grown significantly. So the need to differentiate by even more provocative or surprising "killer" stories is rising, while less resources are left for each journalist to really investigate.

Hence such stories as posted above are written.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Well, I don't want to be arguing this point, since I realize there's an element of xenophobia, and kinda like the idea that working on computers and communicating globally is slightly Less dehumanizing than working in some factory.

But loyalty is a thing that needs to be cultivated over time, and right now we're talking about different societies that probably don't mesh in what we consider loyalty.  It's hard enough to agree on economic language, which is why globalization is so painful and sometimes very unfair.  Not to mention it's a Boom there and security takes time too.

Now maybe I'm just getting this from those Sid meier games, but I'd think security decreases the farther one is from the headquarters.  Not because the people are any less trustworthy, but because the company's not around to have the employees internalize their needs to the same degree.  Statistically speaking.

Didn't the US colonies refuse to recognize Europe's intellectual property, stealing it to educate and entertain its public?  Today's developing nations are probably a lot nicer for all I know...

sammy
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

"but I'd think security decreases the farther one is from the headquarters"

No. Security decreases the farther one is away from the community, which is not necessarily on the same spot as the "headquarters".

"Didn't the US colonies refuse to recognize Europe's intellectual property"

No. In fact, they have been attracting Europe's intellectuals for a long time.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Johnny, I will google for a link, but in the early days, the US did ignore IP from the rest of the world, in a successful bid to foster local industry.

Only when they began to develop their own, did they begin to respect IP.

A country with no IP to protect has nothing to lose from violations... its not like you can turn around and say "you steal our IP, we steal yours".

Having said that though, to simply argue that IP theft is more rampant in the third world, based simply on the sales conversion rate for some obscure product is quite xenophobic as an earlier poster alluded.

Tapiwa
Thursday, September 11, 2003

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