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Gates on IP, Outsourcing

Reuters reports on Bill Gates' criticism of current H1-B visa caps preventing skilled workers from entering the country.
"The whole idea of the H-1B visa thing is, don't let too many smart people come into the country. The whole thing doesn't make sense"

As Patrick Ross notes, weak IP protection in other countries may be a significant reason why MSFT would rather import its workers than send their development work offshore. AP/Yahoo also reports on U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier's annual report on copyright theft, released today, naming 14 countries on its "priority watch list." China, by far the worst in enforcing U.S. copyrights, is also joined by Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey and Venezuela.

On MSFT's Shared Source Licensing Programs site, you'll also see how its licensing programs are broken out presumably based on the IP enforcement regimes within each participant's country.
To determine the geographic markets in which source code can be made available under these various source-licensing programs, Microsoft reviewed national laws, practices, enforcement policies and attitudes toward intellectual-property protection. The absence of a geographic market on an "approved" list does not bar all source licensing in that geographic market, but it does prohibit the standard, broad-based Shared Source program from being offered to customers within that geographic market

American tech workers may see things a bit differently:
Undersecretary of Commerce Phil Bond, a top Bush administration technology official, pointed out that the unemployment rate for engineers is above the national average

Yes, that's right. We have high unemployment amongst American engineers yet we can't seem to import enough foreign workers.

[UPDATE] Dell, emphasis on hardware, announces it will add another 2,000 to its Indian workforce[/UPDATE]

A group likely to garner less sympathy are members of the legal profession who rely on case summaries and other database information from services like LexisNexis. As one Indian tech site reports:
The opportunity for offshore services in the legal publishing field is enormous largely because all judgements in the US are available on the Internet on the concerned court’s website***

Looking at India’s cost advantages, firms such as LexisNexis are outsourcing their content management needs to Indian firms.

How long before clients catch on to the fact that online legal research is supported by offshore resources that hardly charge the hourly rates many lawyers dream of collecting? As Information week reported previously:
According to a recent study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, legal assistants and paralegals working in India on behalf of U.S. law firms earn, on average, between $6 and $8 per hour. That's about one-third of what their counterparts in the United States are paid.

Could this be what Tom DeLay finds "incredibly outrageous"?

[UPDATE] This post featured in Blawg Review #4, hosted by Law & Entrepreneurship News. Take a look at what else they have!

More on legal outsourcing recently mentioned at Legal Blog Watch[/UPDATE]

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