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Are Offshore Software Developers "Laundering" Stolen Software?
Self | Dec. 11, 2001 | The Duke

Posted on 12/10/2001 8:16:38 PM PST by The Duke

Lately I've been visiting some of the online programming-work-for-hire websites in an effort to market my own company, and I've noticed something *very* interesting. I've noticed offshore software development firms located in semi-developed countries such as India and Russia bidding extremely low prices for very complex and sophisticated projects. I'm talking prices so low that they are ridiculous even when considering the cost-of-living differential between them and the US. For example, were I to submit a project for a clone of eBay I may very well get back numerous bids ranging from $1200 - $3000 (US dollars)!

No one can make these types of bids without having large bodies of already-written software from which to draw - bodies of software which any major company would consider to be proprietary and valuable. However, as this software development is taking place in countries in which corruption is, if you can believe it, even more rampant than here in the US (and where our legal system has no jurisdiction), the software finds itself being resold repeatedly. I find it pretty apparent that the same body of software for which a major corporation paid perhaps millions of dollars to develop is readily made available to lowly little me for a mere handful of dollars.

So I suppose if I were to put out for bid a dummy project that was specified to contain numerous valuable features I might very well find myself in possession of software that has basically been laundered through and offshore development office - and I might then, never knowing anything about the tainted origins of said software - incorporate it into my own product which may very well be in direct competition with the company that actually paid for its development.

For me all this begs one question which is "does one need be a lawyer to own a law firm?". Because it's pretty obvious that if I'm to stay honest I'm going to have to get into a new line of work.


TOPICS: Editorial; Your Opinion/Questions
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I'm really wondering if a layperson could start a law firm (and of course hire licensed lawyers to perform those duties requiring lawyerly credentials)? As our own lawyers have precipitated this reality in which all other lines of work have migrated offshore this seems like a smart move. And, since I would be driven by competition, I might just start offering legal services at bargain basement prices!
1 posted on 12/10/2001 8:16:38 PM PST by The Duke
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To: The Duke
So I suppose if I were to put out for bid a dummy project that was specified to contain numerous valuable features I might very well find myself in possession of software that has basically been laundered through and offshore development office - and I might then, never knowing anything about the tainted origins of said software - incorporate it into my own product which may very well be in direct competition with the company that actually paid for its development.

You might also find yourself with nuttin'.

2 posted on 12/10/2001 8:38:07 PM PST by Erasmus
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To: Erasmus
Well, to counter that one might simply hold out the prospect of "phase 2". I suspect that would be a minor risk compared to the potential (ill-gotten) rewards.

Good point, though...

3 posted on 12/10/2001 8:47:39 PM PST by The Duke
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To: The Duke
software development firms located in semi-developed countries

It's not just programmers. You can even get physics done over there. The entire National Academy of Sciences of the former Soviet Union is basically for rent. Cheap, too.

4 posted on 12/10/2001 8:51:00 PM PST by Nick Danger
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To: The Duke
For example, were I to submit a project for a clone of eBay I may very well get back numerous bids ranging from $1200 - $3000 (US dollars)!

EBay is actually very simple. *I* could design a functional clone of EBay for about $10,000. The problem with cloning EBay is simply getting enough users to use the service.

5 posted on 12/10/2001 8:53:51 PM PST by ikka
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To: Nick Danger
So, it sounds to me like physicists might also be good candidates for starting law firms! Gosh, the legal market is starting to feel crowded already!
6 posted on 12/10/2001 9:19:35 PM PST by The Duke
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To: ikka
I'd say $10,000 is a good price for the "design"...but to go to production you're definately talking a much larger budget.
7 posted on 12/10/2001 9:21:20 PM PST by The Duke
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To: The Duke
No one can make these types of bids without having large bodies of already-written software from which to draw - bodies of software which any major company would consider to be proprietary and valuable.
Hopefully American companies will wake up to this when they see all their hard work being easily copied.
User ikka had a good point: it shouldn't take that many dollars to code up a site but rather to bring people too it. I expect to see programmer's salaries go down as everyone realizes that coding isn't rocket science.
8 posted on 12/10/2001 9:22:46 PM PST by lelio
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To: The Duke
I'd say $10,000 is a good price for the "design"...but to go to production you're definately talking a much larger budget.

You could run a small auction site on a single x86 server (I use OpenBSD, www.openbsd.org, for my servers); but yes, after say 5000 transactions per day you would need something significantly beefier.

9 posted on 12/10/2001 9:26:30 PM PST by ikka
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To: ikka
The point here is, though, that I probably wouldn't get somebody else's software from you (assuming you're in the US)...but it's more likely that I *will* get laundered code from offshore.

And if you can put together an eBay clone for $10k then I'd be looking for $2.5k offshore - although that's not really the point I'm making here.

Basically it's always going to be cheaper to copy software than to re-engineer it, and one should expect lots of that from countries where one can routinely purchase fake Rolex watches in the streets.

10 posted on 12/10/2001 10:03:19 PM PST by The Duke
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: The Duke
Nonlawyers are not permitted to be partners in law firms.

It's not very surprising to hear this. It could be theft, or it could be that a lot of this software has already been written. Why re-invent the wheel? There are a lot of programmers out there who have written lots and lots of code. A lot of these projects are probably very similar.. hence the code already exists.

And also remember, you get what you pay for. It could be crappy code. And a lot of these Indians/Russians/Arabs have top notch education and training, and yet have no jobs. They don't need to launder it. They have nothing but time to work on stuff, building an inventory of code that can be used over and over again.

Out of curiosity, what site did you find this on? I am not in IT but would like to know. I mean, how many shopping carts are out there already? How many programmers, just out of curiosity, built miniature replicas of ebay?

12 posted on 12/10/2001 11:30:35 PM PST by monkeyshine
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: ikka
EBay is actually very simple. *I* could design a functional clone of EBay for about $10,000. The problem with cloning EBay is simply getting enough users to use the service.

No, actually, the biggest problem with cloning eBay is designing a system robust enough to not burst into flames when it has to handle hundreds of millions of transactions.

Single-user database design is easy. Multi-user database design is a bit harder. Design of databases that can take eBay-level traffic without gridlocking into bottlenecks that have bottlenecks is a whole other thing entirely.

I'm only exaggerating a bit when I say that it's like the difference between launching a bottle rocket and launching the Space Shuttle.

14 posted on 12/10/2001 11:47:19 PM PST by Dan Day
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To: Nick Danger
You can even get physics done over there. The entire National Academy of Sciences of the former Soviet Union is basically for rent. Cheap, too.

Hey, I had that on my first Web site way back when. "Physical Chemistry done While-You-Wait" I'm cheap, relatively. Those guys are probably cheaper, though.

15 posted on 12/10/2001 11:58:59 PM PST by Chemist_Geek
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To: monkeyshine
Nonlawyers are not permitted to be partners in law firms.

It seems to me that this should change - or perhaps it should be made legal for corporations to own law firms(?) Why not? At the highest levels it's got to be purely administrative.

16 posted on 12/11/2001 3:22:21 AM PST by The Duke
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To: Dan Day
No, actually, the biggest problem with cloning eBay is designing a system robust enough to not burst into flames when it has to handle hundreds of millions of transactions.

I am not sure what EBay's per-day transaction volume is. Personally I would just buy an IBM mainframe and run several hundred copies of Linux on it against DB2. The drive arrays that get attached to such a system can do 324 MB/second of transfer, which is fast enough for a start. Personally I shudder to think that they have NT boxes serving up data pulled from Solaris or Compaq Unix servers - the admin overhead must be astounding.

17 posted on 12/11/2001 5:40:39 AM PST by ikka
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To: The Duke
I'm thinking that the reason the software development industry makes such an easy mark for globalists is because whenever a discussion of issues surrounding the industry commences it ultimately degenerates into one of those "I can write programs faster than you" or "My operating system is better than yours" debates, even if that has nothing to do with the subject.

It's a shame to see an entire industry flush itself down the toilet.

18 posted on 12/11/2001 7:57:56 AM PST by The Duke
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To: ikka
No a non lawyer may not own a law firm.
This would call the independence of the
lawyer's decision making into question.
A lawyer first obligation is to the client
All fifty states have some version of this
Only washington DC allows non lawyer partnerships
but they are very limited and the client must sign off
on the fact of a non lawyer partner.

In house counsel are allowed because they have one client,
the corporation.

19 posted on 12/11/2001 12:36:50 PM PST by aabbccddeeff
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To: The Duke
I know an "American" software consulting company made up of Indians who stole several products from their clients. The stolen software allows them to have created a data entry company offshore. They work for $8/hour versus $16+/hour for Americans. They came to us for a partnership...I called the state department and their clients they stole from.
20 posted on 12/11/2001 12:40:09 PM PST by PatrioticAmerican
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To: aabbccddeeff
A lawyer first obligation is to the client

That all sounds great on paper, but it doesn't explain the behavior we see in lawyers. For example the case of class-action lawsuits in which lawyers take 98% of the award and split the remaining 2% amongst the suffering victims.

Hmmmm...I wonder what would explain that? Maybe self-interest???

21 posted on 12/11/2001 12:59:58 PM PST by The Duke
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To: The Duke
I agree completely. But they are a cabal and don't want any outsiders inside unless the outsiders are subservient to them.
22 posted on 12/11/2001 5:09:46 PM PST by monkeyshine
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: ben_j_jones
I knew a Punjabi. He is a contractor here in Denver.
24 posted on 12/11/2001 6:04:00 PM PST by PatrioticAmerican
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To: The Duke
Your notion of how much they take is incorrect
All state bars limit how much a lawyer can recieve
Since a zero award means zero payment the risk is
spread out.
generally anything over 2 mil is 20%
I am not defending, I am just correcting the 98% notion
25 posted on 12/12/2001 4:38:14 AM PST by aabbccddeeff
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