[Beowulf] Re: "hobbyists"

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Jun 18 20:03:16 EDT 2008


At 04:16 PM 6/18/2008, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
>Jakob,
>
>
>Is it legal what your friend is doing for his hobby in his sparetime?
>
>Thanks,
>Vincent

There are many things that one might do, perhaps with a cluster, that 
can get you into trouble with various treaties and agreements. For 
example, the ITAR describes a heck of a lot of really interesting 
things that if inappropriately transferred to someone might result in 
some attention from the authorities.

In general, fundamental research is not subject to export controls, 
so if you frame your problem in terms of abstract mathematical 
problems, you're not going to be treading on any toes.  However, 
start distributing it as "Jim Lux's superduper encryptor/password 
cracker, now with 1024 bit capability!" and it's moved from 
fundamental research to a product.

"Defense service" is a particularly tricky area since it's pretty 
vague in definition.  There's tricky guidelines like this:

Providing guidance or instruction to a foreign person on where to 
find data or information related to controlled items may be a defense 
service even if the data is in the public domain, if the data 
addresses a specific problem and is being provided to help with that problem.

So.. if your (foreign person) buddy is designing thermonuclear 
devices in their garage, and they complain about how slow it is to 
run the hydrocodes to simulate stuff, better not hand them that old 
copy of Sterling, et al., or even worse, give them rgb's website. 
(the latter would be too suspicious, since rgb *is* a physicist, 
doing monte carlo simulations no less, while Tom Sterling is *just a 
computer scientist*)


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