Research Discussions Off-Campus
In general, the majority of exchanges between researchers off-campus can go forward without the requirement of an export license where there is no exchange of export controlled information such as presentation of research findings that have been or are intended to be published. International conferences and/or presentations of research such as in meetings between researchers and industry which are limited to published or publishable research are covered by the "publicly available/public domain" exclusions provided by the regulations, and no export license is needed when these discussions take place during participation in these conferences. However, where there is the possibility of exchange with a foreign national or foreign entity of technical information not yet published regarding a defense article found on the US Munitions List, the researchers should be aware of the following:
The International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations only permit unlicensed export of:
- general systems description of defense articles
- basic marketing information on function or purpose
- information concerning general scientific, mathematic or engineering principles commonly taught in schools, college and universities, and
- information in the public domain (i.e., available through sale at newsstands and bookstores, through subscriptions which are available without restriction to any individual who desires to obtain or purchase the published information, at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents, through patents available at any patent office, through unlimited distribution at a conference meeting seminar, trade show, or exhibition generally accessible to the public in the U.S. and through fundamental research in science and engineering at accredited institutions of higher learning in the U.S. where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community.)
Technical information which falls within the meaning of the first categories above and is NOT ITAR-controlled includes top-level drawings, top-level narrative descriptions or summaries of performance requirements, key subsystems, design capabilities or manufacturing facilities. Likewise, top-level description of reliability analyses, top-level block diagrams, top-level description of operational modes, top-level equipment layout drawings, and top-level predictions of power usage or consumption do not require a license.
However, technical information which IS likely to be ITAR-controlled, and thus require an export license before sharing with a foreign national or foreign entity, includes detailed information about "how-to" design, manufacture and test; design, manufacture, test methodology or philosophy; technical trade-off methodology or detailed alternatives, detailed test data or test procedures, detailed description of integration and test plans, or detailed schematics diagrams or interface information, as well as manufacturing or assembly processes or analytical methods of procedures.
Researchers should also be aware that exports of all other technical information about a defense article can take place either through exchange of documents, through oral exchanges in person or by telephone or by electronic exchanges, including fax transmission or e-mail.
Furthermore, the ITAR prohibits the furnishing of assistance, including training, related to a defense article to foreign persons.
Situations that may raise an export concern:
- E-mailing a colleague in a foreign country unpublished technical data about a controlled item.
- Sending a draft of a publication to a foreign colleague to review that contains unpublished controlled technical data
- Providing information to a foreign colleague linking two or more publications regarding controlled equipment or technology. A "defense service" may be provided by the simple act of linking the two publications.