The United States Department of State has ruled favorably on Open Research
Institute’s commodity jurisdiction request, finding that specified
?Information and Software for a Digital Microwave Broadband Communications
System for Space and Terrestrial Amateur Radio Use? is definitely not
subject to State Department jurisdiction under ITAR, the International
Traffic in Arms Regulations. This is an important step toward reducing the
burden of regulations restricting international cooperation on amateur
satellite projects, which have impeded engineering work by amateurs in the
United States for decades.
Export regulations divide both technical information and actual hardware
into three categories. The most heavily restricted technologies fall under
ITAR, which is administered by the State Department. Technologies subject
to more routine restrictions fall under EAR, the Export Administration
Regulations, administered by the Department of Commerce. Technologies that
are not subject to either set of regulations are not restricted for export.
On 20 February 2020, Open Research Institute (ORI) filed a Commodity
Jurisdiction (CJ) Request with the US State Department, seeking to
establish that key technologies for amateur radio are not subject to State
Department jurisdiction. ?Information and Software for a Digital Microwave
Broadband Communications System for Space and Terrestrial Amateur Radio
Use? was assigned the case number CJ0003120. On 11 August 2020, the case
received a successful final determination: the technology is not subject to
State Department jurisdiction. This is the best possible outcome of a CJ
The Final Determination letter can be found at
Under this determination, the technologies are subject to the EAR. The next
step is to submit a classification request to the Commerce Department. ORI
anticipates that the Commerce Department will find that these technologies
are unrestricted under the carve-out for open source in the EAR.
Open Research Institute (ORI) is a non-profit research and development
organization which provides all of its work to the general public under the
principles of Open Source and Open Access to Research.
This work was accomplished by a team of dedicated and competent open source
volunteers. The effort was initiated by Bruce Perens K6BP and lead by
Michelle Thompson W5NYV.
Open Research Institute developed the ideas behind the Commodity
Jurisdiction request, hired Thomsen and Burke LLP (https://t-b.com/) for
expert legal advice, organized the revisions of the document, and invited
organizations and individuals with amateur satellite service interests to
join or support the request.
ORI thanks Libre Space Foundation and Dr. Daniel Estevez for providing
their subject matter expertise and written testimony, and JAMSAT for
helpful encouragement and support.
The legal costs were fully reimbursed with a generous grant from Amateur
Radio Digital Communications (ARDC). See
ARDC and ORI share a vision of clearly establishing open source as the best
and safest way to accomplish technical volunteer work in amateur radio.
This final determination letter provides solid support for that vision. The
determination enables the development of implementation guidelines that
will allow free international collaboration.
This clears the path for a number of interesting projects facilitating new
methods for terrestrial and satellite communications, opening the door to
robust global digital amateur communications.
Questions and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
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