Skip to comments.Are Offshore Software Developers "Laundering" Stolen Software?
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.
You might also find yourself with nuttin'.
Good point, though...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's a shame to see an entire industry flush itself down the toilet.
In house counsel are allowed because they have one 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???
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