Alerts and Updates

BIS Imposes New Immediate Licensing Requirements on Certain Geospatial Imagery Software; Comments Due by March 6

January 21, 2020

Any companies that may be involved with certain geospatial imagery software should conduct classification reviews to determine whether the new control may implicate any of their products or activities.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) recently published an interim final rule that adds software specially designed to automate the analysis of geospatial imagery to the list of items classified under the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) 0Y521 series. Specifically, as of January 6, 2020, this software is classified under ECCN 0D521, and as with all items classified under the ECCN 0Y521, a license from BIS is required to export or reexport the software to any country (except Canada) or to retransfer the software within a foreign country (except Canada). BIS will use a case-by-case license application review policy in decisions involving certain geospatial imagery software.  

Pursuant to the interim final rule, the software now controlled by ECCN 0D521 is defined as:

Geospatial imagery “software” “specially designed” for training a Deep Convolutional Neural Network to automate the analysis of geospatial imagery and point clouds, and having all of the following:

(1) Provides a graphical user interface that enables the user to identify objects (e.g., vehicles, houses, etc.) from within geospatial imagery and point clouds in order to extract positive and negative samples of an object of interest;

(2) Reduces pixel variation by performing scale, color, and rotational normalization on the positive samples;

(3) Trains a Deep Convolutional Neural Network to detect the object of interest from the positive and negative samples; and

(4) Identifies objects in geospatial imagery using the trained Deep Convolutional Neural Network by matching the rotational pattern from the positive samples with the rotational pattern of objects in the geospatial imagery.

Technical Note: A point cloud is a collection of data points defined by a given coordinate system. A point cloud is also known as a digital surface model.

BIS has stated that it will accept comments on the interim final rule, which could result in BIS changing what is controlled by ECCN 0D521. The deadline for comment submission is March 6, 2020.

Any companies that may be involved with certain geospatial imagery software (e.g., those in the satellite or machine learning industries) should conduct classification reviews to determine whether the new control may implicate any of their products or activities. In addition, they should consider submitting comments to BIS regarding the kinds of software that should and should not be controlled under ECCN 0D521. 

For Further Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Geoffrey M. Goodale, Michael E. Barnicle, Brian S. Goldstein, Keith J. Feigenbaum, Jamie E. Brown, any member of the International Practice Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

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