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Software Piracy At the Beijing Branch Office? 614

Posted by kdawson
from the way-of-life dept.
spirit_fingers writes "I'm the IT manager for a west coast design company that has a small branch office in Beijing with 5 employees, a few workstations and a couple of servers. Recently, it came to my attention that the Beijing office has been routinely installing and using pirated software on their computers — MS Office and Adobe Creative Suite, mostly. We're very buttoned up about being legal with our software here at the home office, and I consider it unprofessional and risky for our Beijing office to be engaging in this practice. When I called the local office manager on this, he shrugged and replied, 'Well, every other shop here does it.' So I was wondering if there are any IT manager Slashdotters here in the the US who may have experienced something similar with their colleagues in APAC, and how they handle a situation like this." Click the link for more of this reader's thoughts on the subject.

Up until now, the powers that be here in the States have had a relatively laissez faire attitude about what goes on at the Beijing office and our accounting department hadn't noticed that Beijing never submitted receipts for software, until I questioned them about it.

I have no doubt that "everyone else does it" in that environment. Frankly, I could care less what those guys do with their personal computers, but when it comes to company-owned gear my attitude is to stay legal no matter what anyone else is doing. And it's not like they need to do it to save money: the Beijing branch turns a tidy profit. It just seems to be an attitude so firmly ingrained in the culture over there that no one gives it a second thought.

My response (CC'd to our CFO) was to ask for copies of all receipts and serial numbers for the software they're using. and see what happens. This came down today, so I'll give them a day or two to come up with something.
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Software Piracy At the Beijing Branch Office?

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  • He's Right (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:36AM (#26721755)

    EVERYONE in China massively pirates all software.

    Seriously, the company I work for has facilities in China and everything we don't specifically buy and install is pirated over there.

    • Re:He's Right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @04:43AM (#26722433)
      This is about more than just pirated software. Depending on where the Beijing office got the software, it could be carrying a malware payload that handed over back doors to all of their computers.

      China is well known for using corporate (and other) espionage to further their political agenda. Hooking into company systems to exfiltrate any possibly valuable data is far too common.

      I would consider the computer security risk to be far more of an issue than just not having proper licenses.

      I know it's easy to say this from the outside, but if their Beijing office routinely pirates software, everything about this company's IT security posture seems very out of control.

      The OP might as well post logins and passwords on the Internet. It sounds like an extreme analogy, but the reality is that their Beijing computers are probably compromised - possibly multiple times - and any data has probably been examined and pilfered.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MrZaius (321037)

        This is about more than just pirated software. Depending on where the Beijing office got the software, it could be carrying a malware payload that handed over back doors to all of their computers. China is well known for using corporate (and other) espionage to further their political agenda. Hooking into company systems to exfiltrate any possibly valuable data is far too common.

        Quite right. Given my druthers, the first and most important thing I'd do is strip them of any and all administrative rights and,

        • Re:He's Right (Score:5, Insightful)

          by VendettaMF (629699) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:54AM (#26724665) Homepage

          Ha.
          HaHaHa.

          Three hours, three hours tops. That's how long your locked down machines would last before they were wiped clean and reinstalled from whatever cracked windows media they prefer. Including your fancy-schmancy-linux scanner system. It'd be running xp, vista or windows 7 RC1 before you reached the airport.

          This is China. The rules are different here. For starters, law is irrelevant. All laws. All the time. Cold-blooded pre-planned murder is a debatable situation here depending on who you know. The only actually arrestable offense is annoying a police officer or someone with a hold over police officers.

        • Re:He's Right (Score:5, Insightful)

          by wintermute000 (928348) <bender.planetexpress@com@au> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @11:53AM (#26725719)

          Your advice will turn the OP's working life into a living hell. Most likely relations with the China team will go to ---- and he will only be able to make a small dent anyway.

          Enforcing by fiat from several thousand miles away.... geeze I wonder how that's going to look to the Chinese staff.

          Classic case of culture mismatch + geek 'how dare they trespass my domain' indignation = epic fail

          The ethics aside, doing the above will surely fail and not have any impact on anything, leaving no traces. That in itself is a reason not to do so.

          There's plenty of other posts here that may educate the frustrated petty bureaucrat in you so I won't even bother trying to explain how incredibly arrogant and condescending you come across as

      • Whoa, steady now (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @09:38AM (#26723883)

        Calm down, just a bit or two, there is no need to overreact.

        For one thing, whether it is OK to copy software without the consent of the one who produced it is mostly a matter of taste or culture - unlike, say, murder or burglary. The whole idea of "intellectual property rights" is something that is very recent and has come into the world in the West; not to mention the whole idea of private property that underpins it, which one may be excused for thinking is alien to a Communist nation. All that aside, it has long been a part of Chinese culture and tradition to copy things - it is seen as a perfectly legitimate thing to do. You learn calligraphy or other arts by copying the masters, after all; so why not literature or software?

        China is well known for using corporate (and other) espionage to further their political agenda.

        Really? It isn't well-known to me, among others. You see, when you make a claim like that you need to be able to prove your case. Otherwise it merely ranks as "smug ignorance", on par with all the other prejudices - such as "all muslims are terrorists" or "Jews are money-grabbing misers".

        Apart from that, you could substitute "England", "USA", "Israel" or just about any nation for China in that statement and get something equally justified. There is every reason to believe that all countries do this kind of things. Just to take one example: Isn't it true that we keep hearing about how American government agencies want to induce eg. Microsoft to install backdoors in their software? And is that not "espionage to further their political agenda"?

        It is too lame to drone on with this sort of automatic demonizing of everybody you don't like or don't understand. The only two effects that is like ly to have is alienating your opponents and making you look stupid. Right now China is storming forward in the world and they are opening up; this is among many other things a great opportunity for the western governments to make friends and influence their policies on all the issues we criticize them for. And who knows, maybe some time in the future we will be glad that we have a friend in China.

    • Re:He's Right (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Uber Banker (655221) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @04:51AM (#26722479)

      EVERYONE in China massively pirates all software.

      Not everyone does it, as well as being illegal it's a big reputational risk. Living in China I find it quite fascinating seeing the differences large international companies, small international/foreign companies, and large/small local companies work. This topic is an example of such.

      [Cue Slashdot car analogy.] Large international corporations often do not let their senior foreign staff own a car, even if such staff state a preference to do so. A rented car and driver are cheap. The risk to the reputation of the company (and international companies often hire on their reputation for being well backed financially, esp. in white collar sectors) should a senior staff member have a well publicised accident are sufficiently high to cause this behaviour. Many more examples exist.

      Aside from other concerns like IT security, backdoors in commonly pirated software, lack of availability of software updates, the reputation with the OP's customers is at risk. Perhaps that is how the home office could be persuaded to put some force on the foreign office.

      Outsourcing brings with it cost cutting - legal software may appear highly expensive to the overseas office. It MAY BE THE CASE that the manager of the overseas office is pocketing the money, or will pocket the money if legal software is demanded, and providing fake receipts. This is not unusual. The home office should audit all software. China provides an environment where QQ (a hugely popular instant messaging program) or other software may be installed on machines and local IT/security staff have lower standards than that of the home office. Again, an audit and remote administration should be mandatory.

      I would point out that this case is not unique to China, all developing economies share work and cultural environments which may surprise, disorientate or confuse the home country office. A professional consultancy* can often be hired at good rates to ensure best practice is maintained in any developing or unfamiliar situation, helping to avoid potentially costly mistakes and lapses in judgement.

      *I run such a company but I'm not going to astroturf. Slashdot is for my fun time.

      • Re:He's Right (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:01AM (#26722519)
        ... backdoors in commonly pirated software,

        Bollocks. Never seen it, or heard of it, except from software vendors trying to scare people. And I live in Hong Kong and have seen a fair sample of pirated software. Pirates are actually pretty good at customer service, most give full refund or exchange on demand. They have no interest in selling infected software, it would just rebound on them. Can't say it never happens, but there has been plenty of infected factory fresh legal software. The risk is not larger, in my experience.

        • Re:He's Right (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:12AM (#26722555)
          "Bollocks. Never seen it, or heard of it, except from software vendors trying to scare people."

          Many people had never seen a banana a few hundred years ago. They still existed. I've been to Hong Kong, and I've been to China. World apart, literally worlds apart, my friend.
        • Re:He's Right (Score:5, Interesting)

          by julian67 (1022593) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:28AM (#26722633)
          You're confusing the people who sell the stuff on the street/malls/markets with the people who crack the software and to some extent with the people who manufacture it. You're also making a mistake in assuming a modified binary in a software installer is something that an anti-virus/anti-malware program can necessarily detect. I've seen "clean" installs from commonly used and sold XP CD (in SE Asia) which contain keyloggers and so on from minute one. They were undetectable from the running machine but could be found by scanning from read only media such as live CD. The best way to get a rootkit onto many, many people's PCs is to have them install it along with the OS, or have the local PC retail industry helpfully do the work for you when they clone the pirated OS onto the newly purchased (without OS) PC using their cracked copy of Norton Ghost....and the distribution network of human vendors is efficient, motivated (profit), looks after its customers and broadly trusted. Perfect and beautiful! You pay now, wait 5 minutes.
        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:29AM (#26723455) Journal

          >>>there has been plenty of infected factory fresh legal software

          Like Windows XP. Everytime I have to reinstall XP, I'm faced with this annoying virus that gives me a "Something service has ended. Automatic shutdown in 1 minute."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cpct0 (558171)

      EVERYONE in China massively pirates all software.

      Seriously, the company I work for has facilities in China and everything we don't specifically buy and install is pirated over there.

      I will have to agree with you. My friend has a company branch there, and at first, all computers came with all illegal software, although the invoices were saying it came with Windows, it was a pirated version that couldn't even software update (talk about a bad hack :) ).

      My friend had to go to the store, ask for "real" Windows, he got told multiple times it was real, it's not a copy, no one here never sold any "official and legal" Windows. They finally agreed to (get this) order 5 copies, that took 2 weeks

      • Re:He's Right (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jridley (9305) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:22PM (#26727739)

        Heck, there's a clone builder a few miles from where I work (in Michigan, in the US) that used to (10 years ago) load up EVERY machine that they sold with pirated Windows and tons of software (games, Office, etc). You got a 20 GB hard drive on it (this was a while ago) it was half full of pirated stuff.

        I helped a friend spec a machine there, and we told them that we needed legal copies of Windows, Office, and one or two other things, and we did NOT want any other software on the machine. It took them a week to get the software (they didn't have a SINGLE legal copy of Windows or Office in the building!) and they totally screwed up the install, because they normally just Ghosted in the OS (with a pirated copy of Ghost I'm sure) with all the pirated crap on it, and they weren't used to doing bare-bones installs on fresh machines. I wound up having to reinstall everything myself.

        This was a place that sold a few thousand PCs a year, with a storefront, in the US. And they did it for years, and I never heard of them getting in any trouble over it.

  • by GrpA (691294) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:38AM (#26721773)

    Why make the decision yourself?

    Send an email to the directors just confirming this is what they wish to do and that they don't want you to take any action on this matter.

    Then it's not really your problem anymore.

    Passing the buck works both ways :)

    GrpA

    • by p0tat03 (985078) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:44AM (#26721817)

      If you want something to happen, try reporting the situation to the Beijing branch manager, and CC a higher-up of appropriate stature at the home office.

      Speaking as a Chinese, and having much dealings with my kind, I can say that Chinese people will shit a brick when it comes to potentially pissing off a higher-up in the States.

    • by Corbets (169101) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:45AM (#26721829) Homepage

      One could (and I would) argue the ethics of allowing someone else to decide whether an immoral or illegal act should continue. "Passing the buck" is for cowards, no matter the direction; I think this fella is doing the right thing in trying to solve the problem.

      Besides which, proof that the directors of a company want something to happen is not absolution of your complicity. Suppose you know someone was cooking the books; do you suppose an email from the directors saying "it's ok" would be enough to absolve you when the IRS came in?

      My 2 cents, at any rate.

      • I'd say trying to get some people in a third-world country to pay rich American monopolists extra money is an immoral act.

      • by QuasiEvil (74356) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:57AM (#26721895)

        Okay, I'll argue those ethics.

        IT guy probably doesn't have the power to force the Beijing branch to do anything. His responsibility is to make sure that his superiors, who do have the power as well as the responsibility, are informed about the situation. The corporation is their charge, and if they fail to act, it's the corporation that will incur the risk.

        It'd be a whole different issue to me if the company was doing something that endangered people. In this situation, though, it's merely a calculated economic risk of decreased costs vs. the cost of getting caught.

      • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:59AM (#26721913)

        It's not necessarily a moral matter. That's debatable. What it is, is a business matter. And if you're not authorized to make decisions about that business matter, it's fine to pass the buck to those who are.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jamesh (87723)

        "Passing the buck" is for cowards, no matter the direction

        I think the idea of "passing the buck" wasn't as cowardly as you make out.

        If you ask a superior verbally, and they say "we don't care and are happy for this to continue", then if the shit hits the fan they will plead ignorance.

        If you ask the superior to put it in writing that they are aware of the situation and are happy for it to continue, then the chances are higher that something will be done. It's not just passing the buck.

        cc'ing _their_ superior

    • by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:40AM (#26722165)

      First things first,

      Make sure, that under no circumstances, that you post your situation to a popular internet site. That way you can be sure not to draw attention to your circumstances from the people who might investigate... ...oh wait one minute.

  • Bit late now you've already started investigating though.

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:43AM (#26721809)
    1) you speak to someone who has the power to set things right educting them on the legal risks and possible get a cookie. 2) You do as above but use this as a chance to push open source software, it's free and legal so why not use it? 3) you keep your mouth shut and just hope no one ever tells on the company. 4) blackmail (for money if you want to be simple 5) keep it in mind if they threaten to lay you off due to budget issues. Nothing like having something on the boss (see above) All these are pretty sound options, well save maybe blackmail for cash.
  • by jkrise (535370) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:44AM (#26721821) Journal

    You are better off suggesting Open Office and Free PDF software; rather than fighting piracy.

    I used to work at a multi-national company; and I used to be amazed at the amount of self-imposed lock-ins created by IT staff in Western branches (I am based in India). Routine inter office correspondence happens using 'advanced' features in Exchange and Word which work only on the Windows platform. I always felt plain text and HTML suffices for any and all communication requirements.

    • It's not "PDF stuff" (Score:3, Informative)

      by PCM2 (4486)

      It's Adobe Creative Suite ... which includes stuff like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. You won't find free replacements for those. (And don't bother replying about the GIMP until it has proper CMYK support.)

    • by lokedhs (672255) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:37AM (#26722155)
      As an interesting side-note, the only time I receieved OpenOffice documents from a client was from an Indian customer.

      I have to admit I smiled a bit with joy when that happened. :-)

  • by tftp (111690) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:46AM (#26721831) Homepage

    My response (CC'd to our CFO) was to ask for copies of all receipts and serial numbers for the software they're using. and see what happens.

    Can you request that from that branch only, and ask nothing from other branches? I'd think the manager would be seriously upset if you in such an open, unambiguous way declare him a pirate.

    A better way, IMO, would be to set up a company-wide policy of keeping track of all software, all licenses and all computers. You need that anyway, just to know what you have, where, and what can be reused, and such. To implement that you, of course, need scans of receipts and licenses, serial numbers, codes or whatever is needed to install and use, along with some notes on what license governs the s/w (such as whether it can be moved from one box to another, etc.) This way when a computer is decommissioned you know what was on it and what can be salvaged. Tools like ManageSoft and HP CM do this, and there are other (free and not.) And when Boy Scouts of America kick the doors in you have all the receipts (that they insist upon!) to prove that you are not guilty, this time.

    That assumes that your job makes you responsible for licensing compliance. If not, maybe you should not bother.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tuoqui (1091447)

      Thankfully the BSA cannot 'kick your door down'. Unless they get a warrant and police cooperation simply refuse to let them on your premises. This is in your best interests even if you ARENT engaged in pirating software.

      1) Some policies are lax enough that any boob in the company could install an unauthorized copy of . In which case you have licensing violations despite any and all attempts at 'good faith' to keep track of this.

      2) The BSA presents a security risk for any small company in the fact that they

  • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54@nOspam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:47AM (#26721839)

    Create a written IT policy for hardware and software. Make sure everyone knows what it is. Create a business ethics policy and ensure that components of it address using unlicensed software. Make sure that your employees are trained on these policies and that a record of training goes into their employee file. If the employees violate the policy, warn them in writing and file the notice in their HR record. If they violate the policy again, fire them. If they want to keep their job, they will fall into line and stop exposing the company to unnecessary legal risk.

  • why do you care? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity (597) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-muiriled.> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:49AM (#26721847)

    Unless your job is legal compliance or you own a lot of Microsoft stock, why bother with this?

  • by kkrajewski (1459331) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:49AM (#26721851) Journal

    It's not like they're going to be caught and prosecuted. Although if possible, why not go for a FOSS solution? Personally I do tend to try to compensate people who write cool software that I use.

    Ocassionally I get emails from Chinese users asking for a serial for one of our products. I asked one if there was not an accessible store from which to purchase it. He responded, basically, yeah, there's a couple, but no one buys software in China, they just download it. So there you have it!

    Sadly we're not popular enough for anyone to have made a keygen that I can find.

  • by magarity (164372) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:52AM (#26721859)

    It seems rather simple: just revoke their account privs for installing new software. I'm in China now and the piracy is not only rampant, the attitude is that only suckers pay. You'll have a near impossible task to try to enforce a no piracy rule by just asking nicely and for receipts. BTW, fake receipts are just as easy to get as pirated software so accepting those as proof will just get you fooled. The only way is to check product keys.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      The way they need to handle it if it is as you say would be to just buy the software, ship it to them and invoice it against their accounts.

      I'm not sure why a single branch is allowed to make their own software decisions anyways. Granted, they are in a different country but if it's the same company and not a contracted company or some partner thing between several companies, then it only makes sense that the company has control over this regardless of what the local management say. It's not like they can re

  • It is admirable that you want to follow the law, but it is not your decision to make. First, decide if you are willing to go down to the mat on this issue. You may antagonize your superiors and be retaliated against. The threshold question is whether the risk of losing your job or getting your career stalled is acceptable to you. It's perfectly fine to let the matter lie if you feel your job may be at risk in this economy.

    Whatever you decide to do, you should cover your ass. Write a formal memo detailing the foreign office's inability to demonstrate that its software is all legit. Call it to the attention of the Beijing folks and a US-based superior. But do not admit that the software is illegal. You do not know if it is. More to the point, it does not violate American law, which is mostly territorial. (The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act covers bribes, not copyright infringement but don't hold me to this.) Just say that you cannot prove the software is legitimate and leave it at that unless you have proof that it is illegal. File a copy of the memo away in a safe place and keep on trucking.

    Should you decide to go on the warpath, make sure you have adequate backing. You do not want to be left alone, or be the problem-maker. Work up the numbers and see how much it would cost to go legit. See if you can use this as a selling point: "All our software is legit; the competitors use stolen software that may have trojans or be incompatible." Work on a consensus with your colleagues and superiors.

    Lastly, be nice and tactful. Avoid being that douchebag who thinks he is better than everyone else. You cannot be effective if you are that dude. Be chill and try to make a win-win situation.

    But if the company management is utterly unwilling to fix the problem, let it drop. Document your suspicions (and say that it is only a suspicion, not proof), send it to the Beijing folks, and save a copy of the memo.

    • by daveime (1253762) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:06AM (#26721973)

      Avoid being that douchebag who thinks he is better than everyone else

      I'd say it's probably a bit late for that.

      While the poster's motives might appear noble, I don't understand exactly what he's trying to achieve. A promotion, extra brownie points, getting someone in a foreign country fired, or at least severely embarrassed (and they set a lot of store on respect in Asia btw).

      He's already approached the person responsible, and voiced his concerns. Just because said person didn't take the action he expected, instead of leaving it alone, he posts it on Slashdot for the world and his wife to comment on. And within a few days it'll be all indexed by Google for posterity.

      To me he comes across as an anal retentive asshole who should be spending more time doing his job, rather than trying to shaft other people ... but that's just me, karma be damned.

      • by gsslay (807818) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @06:11AM (#26722829)

        To me he comes across as an anal retentive asshole who should be spending more time doing his job

        The poster may have been foolhardy bringing it to slashdot, but it is totally his job to be concerned about it. As IT manager he needs to be know about software installed on the company's computers. This applies whether it's pirated, or completely legal copies of software not approved or suitable for the company's business.

        Pirated software is more likely to have viruses and malware than legitimate copies. If this branch office is either networked or in regular email contact with the rest of the company, then any IT manager would be being negligent if they weren't taking an interest in what was installed on those computers.

        If the IT manager doesn't have enough influence to instruct what should be on those computers, and what should not, then they he needs to tell his superiors he will bear no responsibility for any possible damage traced back to them. If his superiors are fine with that, then so be it. But you'd then be left wondering what they want an IT Manager for.

      • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer@noSPAM.hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @10:42AM (#26724473)
        As another IT manager, I know it's my can in a sling if the license status of the software is questioned and found to be illegal or unauthorized under my watch. It's not only my reputation on the line, but my company's reputation. When I took a stand on a recent plan proposed by one of our consultants, I knew that I was putting my neck out, but I was not going to let my name be listed as a supporter and implementor of a solution that would clearly violate our contract with a service provider. [The consultant wanted us to purchase a limited number of licenses for an online SaaS solution and then share the logon information with everyone in the company when the contract states in plain English that user accounts are intened for individual users and may not be shared.]

        I know many of you may shudder at the thought that a company continues to use M$ products, but that decision was already made in this case. Being an American company, comliance with licensing terms is something to which the company may well be held accountable. I think the best advice I've seen here is for this manager to document his concerns, communicate them up and down the tree, and then decide if he is comfortable working in the environment if management continues to overlook the issue.

        In my situation, I expressed my concerns about the company's reputation and legal liability issues to my upline, and I offered to walk (while making it clear that staying was my preference) if my stance was incompatible with the company's views on licensing and contract law. Two weeks later, we purchased the additional licenses, and I still have a job.
  • I know who you are (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @02:52AM (#26721867)
    Well, I don't. But Let's see...

    * IT manager
    * a US west coast design company
    * a branch office in Beijing with 5 employees

    Can't be that many of them... I reckon half an hour on Google and I can work out who you are...

    > When I called the local office manager on this, he shrugged and replied, 'Well, every other shop here does it.' So I was wondering if there are any IT manager Slashdotters here in the the US

    Oh he knows who you are already...

    Good luck in your new career.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      Can't be that many of them... I reckon half an hour on Google and I can work out who you are...

      I always assume that these "Ask Slashdot" topics are entirely fictional. Most seem to be crafted like a TV movie of the week to hit a bunch of hot buttons and provoke controversy. Even if the company is real, (and having personal experience in China, the attitudes are quite expected) the person posting is not necessarily who he says he is, perhaps a former employee or junior staff trying to make trouble.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Airw0lf (795770)

        Can't be that many of them... I reckon half an hour on Google and I can work out who you are...

        I always assume that these "Ask Slashdot" topics are entirely fictional. Most seem to be crafted like a TV movie of the week to hit a bunch of hot buttons and provoke controversy.

        I just wish they could be more like the letters in the "Penthouse Forum"... :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Slashcrap (869349)

      Well, I don't. But Let's see...

      * IT manager
      * a US west coast design company
      * a branch office in Beijing with 5 employees

      Can't be that many of them... I reckon half an hour on Google and I can work out who you are...

      You seem to be angered by the Op doing his job, to the extent that you wish to track him down and get him fired.

      I know it's difficult being a confused, hormonal 14 year old. Seriously though - try not to be such a gigantic faggot about it. This is some seriously pathetic rage against the machine type shit. I hope you remember it long enough to be properly ashamed about it.

  • by ragethehotey (1304253) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:14AM (#26722025)
    When the fact that he has stated they are a design firm makes it pretty clear that at least one of the pirated pieces of software is Adobe Photoshop?

    Nobody would actually be so naive to claim that GIMP is a legitimate and complete open source alternative for Photoshop for a design firm at this point in time? Right? (Although I obviously hope that it will be at some point in the future and GIMP currently is great to give to friends that are learning photo manipulation software for the first time)
  • Call the BSA. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Narcocide (102829) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:22AM (#26722065) Homepage

    http://www.bsa.org/ [bsa.org] It is completely anonymous.

    Why would I - an open source advocate - suggest such a thing? Simple; Forcing people to use and learn from Linux (and thereby allowing Linux to learn from them in turn) is better than passively letting them steal MicroSoft products they can't afford which only improves MicroSoft's ability to leverage their installation base in illegally (in the US at least) anti-competitive practices. This will force MicroSoft to price their software at what its worth or make it worth what they charge.

    Why would I claim to be a benevolent person who cares for the good of humanity with such apparently cruel intentions as forcing users to use Linux unwillingly? That answer is also simple but if you don't already know it then it is pointless for me to state it.

  • by Taelron (1046946) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:36AM (#26722151)
    I'm an I.T. consultant in Silicon Valley and several of my clients over the years have had manufacturing offices in Hong Kong and China.

    I've had to deal with this situation more times than I care for in the last 10 years. Its a very big legal hassle for your company, and their are raids every few years. Not enough to scare the Asian work force into compliance, but its enough of a game of corporate Russian roulette that the risk just isn't worth it.

    Not only are many of the Asian offices using pirated software, but are not running any antivirus software. I've routinely tracked down about 80% of all infections at my client offices to their e-mails with their overseas counterparts or from when they are traveling in Asia on business.

    Also, much of the pirated versions of the software are riddled with trojans, spyware, and security holes galore. Allowing them to use that software further opens up your entire company up to a breach or leak of information.

    I've also seen more than one company fold or nearly go under because one disgruntled person called in an anonymous tip that their current or former companies software was not legit.

    In a corporate environment, getting the documentation and legal software is definitely the IT managers job, and an obvious C.Y.A. for anyone in the I.T. department and the company officers... Its those heads that will roll if the B.S.A. shows up with the authorities to audit you.

    • by ebonum (830686) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @04:23AM (#26722355)

      I hate to say this, but you sound like a paid microsoft poster. Raids? In China? Have you ever been to China? Honestly. Please don't spread FUD. Trust me. I live here.

      I would worry about trojans, spyware. These are legitimate concerns.

      Another concern is that a lot of development in China takes place on very old slow machines. You want to do development here? Plan on using Microsoft VCC 6.0. Want to buy a copy? Forget it. Microsoft dropped that one about a decade ago. ( actually it is amazing how these kids get so much done working little on 17 inch monitors )

      Iâve seen a lot people here using pirated software that is three generations old and no older available. But, it runs 10 times as fast as the new versions, and still seems slow on the old machines here.

  • by dbc (135354) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @03:54AM (#26722227)

    Of course this will happen with APAC shops unless the APAC employees get training in US buisiness culture, and the US employees get training in Chinese buisiness culture. Bootleg software is the *least* surprise your exectutives will receive unless they get out in front of this issue.

    The APAC employees need the "this is how we do things here" speech. They will think you are nuts. If you repeat the speech enough, they will get it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      APAC employees need the "this is how we do things here" speech.

      First learn what "APAC" means. Australia, New Zealand, for a start. Try not demonstrating your ignorance when giving your patronising "speech".

  • by cenc (1310167) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @08:17AM (#26723399) Homepage

    Even the "authentic" software is often pirated in China. I mean with laser stickers sold by the largest brand name stores in China. Even if you wanted to, you might have trouble finding real software.

    In my year in China, I seen thousands of computers and not single one had a real copy of windows on it. Even the computer provide to me by my Chinese government handlers for my work had a hot copy.

    I promptly installed my own copy of linux. No windows machine in that environment can withstand the volume of malware attacks from every direction. There are virus in the wild in China that simply have not made it in to the virus software yet.

    By the way, there are no copies of anti-virus software for sale on the streets either. In over a year, I never seen one single copy, and Chinese I talked to about it think they are silly.

    So, switch to linux or live with it. Copying others is a tradition that goes back thousands of years, and it is not going to change simply by the central government outlawing. All property is public property in China.

  • by FatalTourist (633757) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @11:30AM (#26725307) Homepage
    It's China (town).
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @11:32AM (#26725361) Homepage Journal

    Walk into a mall and there are no "legit" software stores. You still buy your software, there are stands and small storefronts all over the place filled with shiny boxes and jewel cases.

    Short term solution is just buy legit copies of what they have installed and send it to them, so at least they have the licenses and CDkeys available, might help you get some leniency if the BSA or someone decides to come down on you. And then work to clean up the mess and get them aligned with IT / accounting standards.

    As far as the cultural aspects, they will never understand... it is much more convenient to install and run things through the "pirate" distribution channels, which have usually cleaned out the annoyances of product activation and click-through EULAs and all that other crap that US software companies subject us to. Also they wouldn't stand for software with half of the additional-cost features locked out, even if they are features they'd never use.

    On the other hand, this mentality makes them particularly amenable to adapting open source software, since they tend to be technically proficient enough to learn new ways of doing things, and really appreciate and expect not to have to deal with licensing hurdles and DRM. All you have really need to do is convince them that the open source software is technologically superior, which in most cases isn't too terribly difficult.

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