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From "Roy T. Fielding" <>
Subject distributing encryption software
Date Sat, 19 Oct 2002 09:56:40 GMT
Ryan asked for a clarification about whether or not we have the ability
to redistribute SSL binaries for win32.

Last year, the board hired a lawyer to give us an opinion on whether
we can distribute encryption software, or hooks to such software.
The exact opinion we got back is, unfortunately, not online, but it
is essentially the same (with less detail) as the one given to Debian
and visible at <>.  Basically,
we have the right to distribute encryption software in source or
executable form if we also distribute that same software as open
source for free to the public, provided we first notify the U.S.
authorities once per new encryption-enabled product.

This is sufficient for Debian because they distribute the source code
to everything in Debian within a single repository.  Note, however,
that we do not do the same for OpenSSL.  Not only is OpenSSL not in
our CVS, but it isn't normally distributed by us at all, and the
authors of OpenSSL aren't likely to want us to distribute it because
doing so pollutes the recipients rights with U.S. crypto controls
whereas they could simply grab the same distribution from the origin
and not be polluted.

I think that Bill Rowe at one point requested that we seek out a
lawyer's opinion on this specific matter, but that was not followed
through by the board because we already know the legal aspects.
The issue isn't legal -- it is social.  We can download a released
version of OpenSSL, compile it, and make both available from our
website provided we first notify the BXA as described in the Debian
opinion above.  However, it is still preferable for our users to
get the DLL themselves, from a distribution outside the U.S., and
avoid having to maintain our distribution of OpenSSL up-to-date.

I think a reasonable and defensible compromise would be to make
it part of the win32 installation script -- to select no SSL or,
if SSL is selected, to guide/automate the user in downloading an
appropriate DLL from some other site.  Besides, that would allow
the user to pick some other SSL library, such as one of the
optimized ones available commercially that may already be
installed on their system.  There is such a thing as being too
concerned about "ease of installation."

Finally, it should also be noted that the exception for Apache ONLY
applies to non-commercial distributions.  Any commercial distribution,
even if it is simply Apache slapped onto a CD and sold for a buck,
remains subject to the old US export controls that everyone hates,
and must be approved via a separate process.


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