Reply
cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Reply

I believe the vast majority of freelancers are using pirated software.

Community Guru
John B Member Since: Feb 20, 2009
1 of 29

So recently I had to buy some software.

 

One program cost $273 AUS, the other $1643 AUS.

 

I do not have any pirated software on my computer.

 

I see all these contractors from certain parts of the world (mainly in the $3 to $15 per hour bracket) saying they do this and that and that they have "this" software.  

 

There is no way they can afford to buy the software legally.

 

I believe the vast majority of freelancers on this platform are using pirated software to do their work.

 

Active Member
Borche S Member Since: Jun 18, 2015
2 of 29

In most cases that shouldn't even matter to the employer. Why would he care what software has the freelancer used? For example, he could use a pirated Photoshop, but the final product is still the same, even if it was done in an original product.

And most of the software products have a free version with limited features. Like Visual Studio Community for example. Also there is a free, open-source alternative to almost EVERY software out there.

 

 

This, IMO, is not an upwork-specific issue that people should worry about. Although it is a piracy-related issue that applies to everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Community Guru
Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
3 of 29

"In most cases that shouldn't even matter to the employer. Why would he care what software has the freelancer used?"

 

He shouldn't have the option of caring or not, as any professional freelancer should be using genuine software. But if it turns out that the freelancer isn't using genuine software, and the client finds out (granted, that's unlikely) then it poses a moral dilemma. Buying a product that has been created using stolen software would be classed as unethical and there might then be issues with regards to the ownership of the finished article if the freelancer had no right to create it in the first place. 

 

And although the repercussions for the client should be minimal or non-existent... let's say the freelancer gets found out and no longer has access to the software. Could cause problems if the client needs changes to a file. Sometimes I see people saying they'll provide support for X amount of months. If they don;t have the software, then that could be difficult. 

 

Don't get me wrong, all these things are unlikely... but it's wrong to use pirated software, and if your freelancer is using pirated software then it makes you wonder how many other laws they turn a blind eye to. I mean what if the fonts, graphics, music or videos in your finished product haven't been properly licensed for use. Next thing you know you could be getting a letter from somebody's lawyers. 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)
Community Guru
Darrin O Member Since: Jan 20, 2015
4 of 29

@Scott E wrote:

But if it turns out that the freelancer isn't using genuine software, and the client finds out (granted, that's unlikely) then it poses a moral dilemma.


There's no need to wait until you find out to be confronted by such a moral dilemma.  If it's the case that John mentions, that there's no way someone making $15/hour can afford to buy the tools of the trade, then the client makes it clear they're willing to act immorally the moment they consider hiring such cheap labor.

Community Guru
Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
5 of 29

"...there's no way someone making $15/hour can afford to buy the tools of the trade, then the client makes it clear they're willing to act immorally the moment they consider hiring such cheap labor."

 

I don't think it's as clear cut as that. If they're submitting proposals that require certain tools of the trade, then they probably already have those tools of the trade. They may have got that software by charging more previously, still charging less but managing to get work in bulk, or it was a gift, had been bought with money from a previous job, savings etc etc.

 

I guess it also depends on the cost of the software. I work in Adobe After Effects and the subscription only costs me about $65 a month. Less than a days work and you've got that covered. Sure, I've spent a good couple of thousand on top of that on plugins and presets and the like, but it is doable.   

 

Although I agree that there are a lot of people with pirated software out there, I don't think somebody's hourly rate gives an accurate indication of whether they are or aren't using pirated software. A lot of times, new or inexperienced freelancers set their prices too low as they've not taken into account everything they're going to have to pay out and how often they will be working. They might think if they charge double what they got at the burger joint then they're doing really well... but they'll take a while to realise that they're probably making about the same, or less, at the end of the day.

 

So yeah, I wouldn't say that low rates atomatically equals pirated software, but it probably indicates the individual might not be an experienced professional. 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)
Community Guru
Darrin O Member Since: Jan 20, 2015
6 of 29

@Scott E wrote:

"...there's no way someone making $15/hour can afford to buy the tools of the trade, then the client makes it clear they're willing to act immorally the moment they consider hiring such cheap labor."

 

I don't think it's as clear cut as that.


I agree, which is why I qualified it in the portion you clipped.  But . . .


They may have got that software by charging more previously, still charging less but managing to get work in bulk, or it was a gift, had been bought with money from a previous job, savings etc etc.


This smacks of rationalization of possibly immoral behavior.  The kind of thing large corporations try to do when they act surprised that their $5 dresses are made by sweat shop labor.  The fact remains that there is some baseline minimum wage that a person needs to survive, and expenses on top of that which are necessary to run a business.  If you willfully ignore that economic reality, something you can know full well in advance of hiring someone, you're moving into unethical territory.

 

So while it's fun to focus on the freelancers doing the possible piracy, the real blame should be shifted to the shady clients who set their sights on cheap labor.

 

Community Guru
Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
7 of 29

"This smacks of rationalization of possibly immoral behavior."

 

Don't be daft, it smacks of rationalization that not everybody who charges $15 uses pirated software. Nothing more, nothing less. 

 

"The fact remains that there is some baseline minimum wage that a person needs to survive, and expenses on top of that which are necessary to run a business. If you willfully ignore that economic reality, something you can know full well in advance of hiring someone, you're moving into unethical territory."

 

Sure, if you're hiring somebody in your own town then you'll know what the baseline minimum wage is that a person needs to survive. You'll know what local rents are, how much it costs to buy food, what taxes you need to pay etc. I don't think people can know the baseline minimum for every town in every country and thus have a cut off point for a fair rate. 

 

The thing you have to remember is that the person who is going to have the best knowledge of a baseline minimum wage that they need to survive, is the person that is stating what that baseline minimum is for them to survive. We have the power to dictate what we type in the 'billed to client' box, and if you, me or somebody else puts $15 then why should the client question if that's enough for them to survive on or not? Would they even have enough knowledge of the global economy to know if that's a really good, good, average, below average or terrible wage? If somebody is clever enough to sign up for Upwork, and operate their computer well enough so that they can type a dollar amount in a box and submit a proposal, then I'd like to think that they're clever enough not to type in a number that they're not going to be able to survive on if they get the project. 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)
Community Guru
Darrin O Member Since: Jan 20, 2015
8 of 29

@Scott E wrote:

"This smacks of rationalization of possibly immoral behavior."

 

Don't be daft, it smacks of rationalization that not everybody who charges $15 uses pirated software. Nothing more, nothing less. 


No, it's motivated reasoning, pure and simple.  When the point of discussion is morality, your null hypothesis should be that you're behaving immorally.  Far too many evils in this world are perpetuated by those who start from the position that anything they do must be in the right.


I don't think people can know the baseline minimum for every town in every country and thus have a cut off point for a fair rate.


You don't need to understand the world in total to have a moral compass.  You just need to acknowledge what minimum standard of living you find acceptable, and then treat others as equal human beings.  I think the crux of you objection is that you simply don't want to do that, hence the use of faulty logic.


The thing you have to remember is that the person who is going to have the best knowledge of a baseline minimum wage that they need to survive, is the person that is stating what that baseline minimum is for them to survive.


But that's not the moral issue at the heart of the matter.  Just because a person is "willing" to work in a sweat shop to survive doesn't make it right.  In the same way, the minimum wage in the US is not a living wage in the US, so clients/companies are acting unethically not only when they seek to pay employees that low, but are stooping even lower when they skirt those laws to come on Upwork and try to pay $3/hour (or lower, if they can get away with it).


if you, me or somebody else puts $15 then why should the client question if that's enough for them to survive on or not?


Because they don't want to engage in immoral behavior based on motivated reasoning.  But, of course, my argument remains based on the assumption that clients want to behave morally (as opposed to the other line of reasoning in this thread that paints freelancers as pirates).  If we can all admit that clients are the fundamentally immoral ones (or, at best, amoral), we have no disagreement here.

 

Community Guru
Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
9 of 29

"No, it's motivated reasoning, pure and simple.  When the point of discussion is morality, your null hypothesis should be that you're behaving immorally. "

 

Well that's motivated reasoning right there! The discussion isn't about morality or ethics... it's about whether it's possible to pay for software on an hourly rate of $15 an hour. Certain circumstances will make this a discussion about morality and ethics, but all I'm saying is that some people will be able to pay for software while earning $15 an hour and have a decent standard of living. You, by essence of your argument are saying that it's not possible for somebody to do so and that anyone who charges $15 an hour or less is using pirated software.  

 

"Far too many evils in this world are perpetuated by those who start from the position that anything they do must be in the right."

 

Then surely you would agree that "Far too many evils in this world are perpetuated by those who start from the position that anything somebody else does, must be wrong."?

 

"You don't need to understand the world in total to have a moral compass."

 

I know that. But you need to know what is wrong and right before you can make a moral judgement. What is wrong and right for you might be very different to what is right and wrong for somebody else. Imagine there was some amazing island in the middle of the Atlantic where luxury houses are $10,000, brand new cars are $1000, internet connection is $5 a month and a slap up meal with wine is $2. Would your moral compass be out if a person from that island requested $15 and you paid them $15? No. If you refused to hire that person then you're judging them on your US-influenced moral compass. Not theirs. 

 

"You just need to acknowledge what minimum standard of living you find acceptable, and then treat others as equal human beings."

 

I'm not sure what kind of world you're living in, but the one I live in, it doesn't work that way. Everyone deserves respect, courtesy, to be treated fairly... but that doesn't automatically mean that everybody should be paid the same. If you hired a cleaner, would you pay them $100 an hour? Would it be immoral if you didn't?

 

"Just because a person is "willing" to work in a sweat shop to survive doesn't make it right."

 

This isn't a sweat shop. This is Upwork, the world's largest online workplace where savvy businesses and professional freelancers go to work. Apparently. 

 

"In the same way, the minimum wage in the US is not a living wage in the US"

 

I know. $15 is a lot more than the minimum wage though. In some other countries, it's considerably more than the living wage. If you've paid off your house and getting a pension, then $15 is pretty good even in the UK, especially if you're just doing it as 'a bit on the side'.

 

"Because they don't want to engage in immoral behavior based on motivated reasoning."

 

But this 'immoral beghaviour' is based on your opinions and experiences and standard of living. What if you submitted a proposal to a client from Qatar at $100 an hour. The client thinks that seems pretty low... I won't hire them as it seems unethical? Would you be fine with that? And at the end of the day... is it better to hire a provider at a rate they've stated they wanted, so let's say $15, or to not hire them at all for ethical reasons, so they earn $0?

 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)
Community Guru
Darrin O Member Since: Jan 20, 2015
10 of 29

@Scott E wrote:

"No, it's motivated reasoning, pure and simple.  When the point of discussion is morality, your null hypothesis should be that you're behaving immorally. "

 

Well that's motivated reasoning right there!


Words mean things.  You're being intellectually dishonest when you simply parrot them back.


You, by essence of your argument are saying that it's not possible for somebody to do so and that anyone who charges $15 an hour or less is using pirated software.  


Then you either did not read or did not understand my words.  Again, I'm saying that the client bears some responsibility for the marketplace they participate in. If it is the case that piracy is rampant, given that all freelancers in a free market would simply pass any necessary costs on to their client, it would then fall on said client to explain any hires that bear the appearance of inpropriety.


But you need to know what is wrong and right before you can make a moral judgement.


No, you don't.  Like mathematics, if those concepts have any use at all, they must be self-consistent and universal. Equality is a starting point I suggest you consider starting with.


What is wrong and right for you might be very different to what is right and wrong for somebody else.


No, it isn't.  If I disagree with someone on morality, then one of us is wrong.  The thoughtful solution is for each of us to explain our reasoning, and the person that is wrong corrects their thinking to become a better person.  Unfortunately, it is often the case that the thinking that leads people down the wrong moral path is also the thinking that keeps them from fixing their error.


Imagine there was some amazing island in the middle of the Atlantic where


. . . the laws of economics were pure fantasy?  No, I won't do that.  You do your side no favors when you construct straw men that are already on fire.


If you hired a cleaner, would you pay them $100 an hour?


It was never suggested that I would or wouldn't.  Again, my point is that there are certain realities that do put a minimum price on human labor, and beyond that there may be moral grounds to adjust even further upward.  The issue at hand is not people doing just fine at $100/hour, it is about the reality of people living high and mighty in the ol' US of A (or any first-world country) on the backs of people that are denied the same standard of living.


This isn't a sweat shop.


Tell you what.  You work for a year at $3/hour and come back and say the same thing.  Then I'll believe you.


If you've paid off your house and getting a pension, then $15 is pretty good even in the UK, especially if you're just doing it as 'a bit on the side'.


More of the motivated reasoning you're failing to see in yourself.  Keep re-reading your own words until you realize how awful a picture you're actually painting.


But this 'immoral beghaviour' is based on your opinions and experiences and standard of living.


No, it's not.  What you seem to not be getting is that that I'm not trying to impose my morality on you, I'm trying to get you to impose your morality on yourself.  If you think it fair for you to be able to afford a house and a car and a computer and a pension and whatever else you might reasonably say is what a modern human should be able to call their lives, then you are obligated by your own morality to pay the wages that allow that to happen.  You're welcome to not do that, of course, but then you should abandon all pretense that you're a moral person by your own standards.


And at the end of the day... is it better to hire a provider at a rate they've stated they wanted, so let's say $15, or to not hire them at all for ethical reasons, so they earn $0?


Or you could, you know, do the radically ethical thing and pay them more than $15 rather than trying to justify paying them nothing.  That fact that such a solution doesn't seem to cross the mind of clients is exactly the thing I'm highlighting.  If there is piracy, stop blaming the freelancers for it.

 

TOP SOLUTION AUTHORS
TOP KUDOED MEMBERS