[TAG] US sanctions compliant Linux
ben at linuxgazette.net
Fri Jun 27 02:27:49 MSD 2008
On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 11:50:02PM +0200, Paul Sephton wrote:
> On Thu, 2008-06-26 at 14:23 -0400, Ben Okopnik wrote:
> > On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 05:38:51PM +0100, Simon Lascelles wrote:
> > >
> > > We are looking for a version of Linux we can use legally in Syria.
> > >
> > > Do you know of a list of all Linux variants and their country of origin or
> > > do you know of a variant that is export compliant?
> > I may be wrong, but I believe that you're looking for something that
> > doesn't exist. Under the The Wassenaar Arrangement, the US OFAC (Office
> > of Foreign Assets Control) has issued an explicit ruling prohibiting the
> > exportation of Linux to the countries on the SDN list - of which Syria
> > is one.
> > Don Marti has published an open letter to the US Department of Commerce
> > in the Linux Journal on the topic (with regard to Iraq, but equally
> > applicable to your question):
> Is this not making the sweeping assumption that all open source is
> produced in the USA?
I just knew that somebody was going to say that. :)
Paul, let me recap what we know:
a) Simon has asked about using Linux _legally_ in Syria. This means that
he's concerned with international law in that regard - which lies
squarely across the Wassenaar Agreement (hence, my mention of it.)
b) The question is not whether "all open source" is being produced in
the US, but whether *any* of it is. I.e., if you violate "only" 1% of
everything connected with the export of a given item, you're still a
c) As it happens, a very large part of Linux - many libraries, etc. - is
indeed produced in the US, so it's not even a question of some vanishing
fraction; it's an issue that is definitely applicable.
d) The domain that Simon is coming from - and I am making an assumption
here, but not the one you were thinking of - is that of a UK company.
The UK is a signatory to the Wassenaar, AFAIK.
Does this make my statement a bit more understandable?
> Or that all contributors to the Linux operating
> system code are American?
Another non-issue, and for the same reason.
> If exportation of the Linux operating system is prohibited to said
> countries, then are _imports_ of the Linux operating system as produced
> by citizens of those countries not also prohibited from said
I couldn't say, but that's not the question that was being asked - and I
can't actually make out how that would be relevant.
> If some clever fellow from Syria or Iraq at some time in the past
> contributed to an open source product before such restrictions, then is
> his copyright not violated by a subsequent imposition of a prohibition?
I wouldn't think so. He still owns the copyright to what he's produced.
Copyright, however, has nothing to do with the right to export or import
anything - please correct me if I'm wrong.
> What about the long term future of open source- is it to be subject to
> the vaguaries of world politics?
Um... yes? As is anything in the human realm, I'm afraid. The meaning of
the word 'politics' makes that clear, I would think.
> I love America and it's freedoms dearly (despite being South African)
> but such arrogance as to assume that any technology of worth is produced
> wholly by America and should thus be treated as "exports" really gets my
I assure you that I didn't get any of it. I'd know, since I'm a big fan
of goat. :) No, it was crab last night (Rustic Crab Shack in Ft.
Lauderdale, Florida - extreme yum!)
Anyway, there was no arrogance intended - or, as I think I've shown,
inherent - in what I've said.
> If I were Simon, I would forward a friendly note to Mark Shuttleworth
> (of Ubuntu fame) to ask whether he believes his distro is restricted for
> use in Syria.
As much as I respect his work, I assure you that what Mark Shuttleworth
believes in this regard is irrelevant; it's an issue at the federal
levels. If anything, the fact that he holds a dual citizenship makes him
twice as vulnerable - if he violates the law of either SA or the UK,
he's in trouble. That's also pretty much the crux of the problem that
Simon asked about, as I see it.
* Ben Okopnik * Editor-in-Chief, Linux Gazette * http://LinuxGazette.NET *
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