[Discuss] public files vs export control laws

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Fri May 10 14:41:43 UTC 2013

This is a dilemma that's been building up for a while now. Open source is
all about sharing ideas so that anyone who wants to build them, or build
off of them, can do so. Export control is a legal regime that makes sharing
of certain ideas with non-authorized entities a federal crime.

Those of you who were at the hardware documentation jam might remember the
subject of legal constraints coming up, but at the time I didn't have a
good example.

It would seem that we now have our test case. The State Department has
ordered Defense Distributed to stop that whole "sharing guns" thing while
they review whether or not making them internationally available violates
International Traffic in Arms Regulations.


Cody Wilson, a law student, says that what he's doing falls into a
protected exception for non-profit public domain research. His argument is
that the files are "stored in a library" in the sense that all libraries
have internet access and there is a single bookstore in Austin providing
the published plans.

Getting any kind of official exception to export control for open source
technology development would be a huge win. It would pave the way for much
more ambitious projects.

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