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Treff LaPlante

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Jurisdiction, Regulation and Pirates

The new world of regulation

Lately it seems like avoiding something or borrowing something without permission or just flat out stealing something is the key to get ahead in the world of technology.

Bloomberg today published an article describing how Google pays only a 2.4% income tax in this country thanks to various schemes called the "Double Irish" and the "Dutch Sandwich". As a result, most of their profits end up parked in Bermuda behind a corporation that is not required to disclose where it's money then flows.

To be fair, they are just using the same transfer pricing loopholes that many others do. In fact, their transfer pricing agreement was approved by the IRS.

Separately, InfoWorld is making some hubbub about Facebook's blatant skirting of its own posted privacy protection rules.

The way this works, Facebook tags your clicks with your ID, and gives its partners access to that information.  These guys may match your ID up with whatever information they are collecting, and sell that off to advertisers or data aggregators.

As it turns out, the Facebook community makes quite a bit of money by selling your usage habits to third parties. Even though Facebook say's this is a violation of their terms of service, they apparently provide loopholes allowing it anyway.

And on a final note, many of you may remember the various file sharing sites that have been shut down over the last decade for copyright law violations. These sites allowed people to share music and videos, or anything else, without actually having to pay for it.  As long as one person uploaded the protected material, such as a song, anyone else could download it at no cost.

Well, these guys haven't stopped trying.  They looked into buying the micro nation of Sealand, hoping to skirt copyright protection laws, but couldn't afford it. The contemplated leveraging a ship at sea, or a balloon floating high in the sky.

Allegedly, they are now evaluating whether a satellite would serve the purpose of defeating copyright laws on a global...and now I suppose even on a cosmic scale.

While it's hard to imagine why anyone would consider it okay to avoid legitimate taxes, secretly violate your own terms of service, or steal someone else's intellectual property the truth is that nothing illegal is being done here. In fact, in some of these examples it could be considered ethically correct to do exactly what they are doing; maximizing shareholder return within the confines of the law.

So if it's clearly wrong, and yet entirely correct, where does the problem lie? Google promises to "do no evil" while they dole out free products. Facebook promises to help you "connect and share with the people in your life", now over 500 million of them, at no charge. The Pirate Parties want to give you all the free music you can handle.

And we all love free products. But there's nothing wrong with that either.

Something has to give. For now it will have to be the gray area's in the law.

Check out WorkXpress database software.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University.