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Australian Export Controls and the Life Sciences

A guide to understanding export control laws regarding the physical export, intangible supply, publication or brokering of life sciences related goods, software or technology

6: Collaborating internationally

It is important to note that much of the collaboration activities taking place within the life sciences academic and research community consist of information that is “basic scientific research ” or that is already “in the public domain ”. Such information is exempt from export controls. Increasingly, research is conducted through the combined efforts of researchers located around the world, and Australian researchers will be located in different countries while conducting their research.

Different permit obligations will apply depending upon the actual circumstances of the relationship and the means by which any supply activity between a person in Australia and a person who is overseas occurs.

A permit is not required if the sender and recipient are the same “person ”. The definition of “person ” includes supplies between employees of the same body corporate (including an institution), wherever located. Australian companies that are part of multinational corporations should note though, for the purposes of the legislation a body corporate extends only to the Australian registered entity.

EXAMPLE: A permit is not required when a researcher, working on a DSGL-listed pathogen, uploads controlled technology to a shared environment and that same researcher later accesses that technology while overseas.

EXAMPLE: A permit is not required when a researcher, working on a DSGL-listed pathogen, uploads controlled technology to a shared environment which is then accessed by another researcher employed by the same institution while overseas.

Researchers that are part of multinational research collaborations efforts will often use various collaborative methods of sharing ‘DSGL technology’ rather than point-to-point transfers such as email or file transfer. A common situation is where the researchers store the research findings in a shared environment (e.g. server, server hub, repository, document sharing program or online data sharing environment).

IMPORTANT: Export controls are not determined by where the ‘DSGL technology’ is stored, or where that storage is located. Instead, it depends on whether a person in Australia supplies, including giving access to, ‘DSGL technology’ to a person outside Australia – regardless of the method.
EXAMPLE: Dropbox®, a U.S. based company, is not being ‘supplied’ with technology when you upload it to a personal box, therefore this activity does not require a permit.

A “person ” located in Australia makes a supply when doing one of the following things:

  • Creates new ‘DSGL technology’ and uploads it to a shared environment so that it becomes accessible by an individual or a foreign corporate entity outside Australia;
  • Downloads ‘DSGL technology’ from this shared environment, conducts further research and then uploads the outcome of that additional research so that it becomes accessible by an individual or a foreign corporate entity outside Australia;
  • Contributes to furthering ‘DSGL technology’ while it remains in the shared environment using remote access technology (i.e. without actually downloading the technology), and that ‘DSGL technology’ continues to be accessible by an individual or a foreign corporate entity outside Australia; or
  • Provides the username/password or other information required to gain access to this shared environment to an individual or a foreign corporate entity located outside Australia, even if they provide this information orally.
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