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The export control regulations exempt from licensing requirements technical information (but not controlled items) resulting from "fundamental research."
Fundamental research is defined as basic and applied research in science and engineering conducted at an accredited United States institution of higher education where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community. Such research can be distinguished from proprietary research (the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary reasons or specific national security reasons). Research conducted by scientists, engineers, or students at a university normally will be considered fundamental research.
The Fundamental Research Exclusion permits United States universities to allow foreign members of their communities (e.g., students, faculty, and visitors) to participate in research projects involving export-controlled technical information on campus in the United States without a deemed export license. Further, technical information resulting from fundamental research may be shared with foreign colleagues abroad and shipped out of the United States without securing a license.
Prepublication review by a sponsor of university research solely to ensure that the publication does not compromise patent rights or inadvertently divulge proprietary information that the sponsor has furnished to the researchers does not change the status of the research as fundamental research, so long as the review causes no more than a temporary delay in publication of the research results. However, if the sponsor will consider as part of its prepublication review whether it wants to hold the research results as trade secrets (even if the voluntary cooperation of the researcher would be needed for the company to do so), then the research would no longer qualify as "fundament al."
As used in the export regulations, it is the actual and intended openness of research results that primarily determines whether the research counts as "fundamental" and not subject to the export regulations. University based research is not considered "fundamental research" if the university or its researchers accept (at the request, for example, of an industrial sponsor) restrictions on publication of scientific and technical information resulting from the project.