[OSGeo-Discuss] Re: on Google Code and export restrictions

P Kishor punk.kish at gmail.com
Thu Jun 5 13:37:21 PDT 2008

On 6/5/08, Marco Tuckner <marcotuckner at public-files.de> wrote:
> Dear list members,
>  I would like to follow up here and ask for a official statements from OSGEO on
>  this topic.
>  I expected some more replys to this topic. When it first came up on this list
>  it was even ignored.
>  In principle, the thing is very simple:
>  OSGEO tells as part of their mission that they are producing FREE software with
>   the note that not free as free of charge is meat. Free is used in the sens of
>   the software being free of any restrictions in use and distribution.
>  Now you start to incorporate US export legislation politics on that.
>  Here my questions:
>  1) Why do you intend to follow the US governmental export rules and
>  restrictions?
>  2) How to you want to track any misuse (e.g. mirroring of OSGEO download
>  servers)?
>  3) If you are really serious with that, how to you intend to maintain the
>  attractiveness of OSGEO to people from outside US?
>     => Why should someone from Europe, Brazil, China, Sudan, etc. contribute
>     to any OSGEO project if he/she cannot control/guarantee the freedom of that
>      code?
>  For instance I percived gvSIG to be an Spanish/European product.
>  Europeans maintain good relations with countries where US-americans do not go.
>  If, for instance the Spanish government decides to help the Cuban people in a
>  sanitation project and use gvSIG, will they get punished using their
>  own software?
>  I am at the momemnt in the decicion taking phase whether or not to use QGIS,
>  GRASS, gvSIG for projects in my company.
>  If I cannot send these programs out to my clients anywhere in the world then
>  they are just useless for that purpose.
>  So taking an official statement is really important. Please think twice here
>  before opting for the US understanding of freedome and security
>  (Saying that some days after the US announced they gonna implement
>  even more strict visa rules on European flight passengers.)

I have been in touch with a variety of different folks (National
Academies, Creative Commons/Science Commons, university digital
librarian), and the general consensus from them is to stay away from
messing with any country's laws. It is best to consult the Commerce
Control List (CCL) for an Export Control Classification Number (ECCN)
to determine applicable export restrictions on software. CCL can be
used to self-classify. Guidelines for applying the CCL can be found at


If one is unsure about how to implement a export control compliance
program, consultation with an export control lawyer or specialist is
strongly advised.

There is nothing we should do with protocols or licenses that will
affect these export laws...they are binding on everybody that is
affected by U.S. Laws. U.S. export laws are very strong and they carry
severe penalties, including criminal penalties. The Spanish government
should be able to export it themselves to Cuba without involving U.S.
Law. They just can't do it through a U.S. company.

In other words, if you disagree with the laws, move the project to a
jurisdiction where the laws are different. So, for example, gvSIG
could easily move the code hosting from Google to some host in

In addition to the usual export control restrictions, the U.S has an
embargo on Cuba, so almost all exports there from the U.S. (except
recently, cell phones) require a license.

Complying with such laws is important... to quote the lawyer, while we
like Free as in Freedom, "we also like 'Free' as in not in jail."

>  Kind regards,
> Marco Tuckner
>  _______________________________________________
>  Discuss mailing list
>  Discuss at lists.osgeo.org
>  http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

Puneet Kishor http://punkish.eidesis.org/
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/
Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) http://www.osgeo.org/

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