A few weeks back there was a lot of news over a former Goldman Sachs programmer who was arrested by the FBI for supposedly "stealing code" he had worked on while at GS. The headlines made a big deal over the importance of this software, talking about how its proprietary nature could represent a "huge loss" for the banking giant. That struck me as typical journalistic hyperbole, and it's great to see the NY Times actually be the one to step in with an op-ed from a programmer who points out how blown out of proportion this story likely is
compared to the real issue. The op-ed piece makes two key points: (1) It's pretty common for programmers to keep copies of their code, if only to be able to refer back to it and (2) the code, by itself, isn't really all that useful. He notes that simply reusing someone else's code really doesn't help much -- and what most companies want is better code
that is better suited
to what their approach is -- meaning that they want the know-how of the programmer, not the old code.