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Government Programming Software United States Politics

Is Buying Cuban Software Legal In the US? The Answer is Hazy ( 75

lpress writes: The Treasury Department recently issued new regulations authorizing "the importation of Cuban-origin mobile applications and the employment of Cuban nationals by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to develop such mobile applications." Great, but that is ambiguous, so I asked Treasury some follow-up questions: why is the rule restricted to mobile apps, what is the definition of a mobile app and can the Cuban developer work for a Cuban cooperative or government enterprise or must it be an individual? The answers were mostly "no comment" so the best way to clarify the situation is to try it and see what happens.
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Is Buying Cuban Software Legal In the US? The Answer is Hazy

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  • by Anonymous Coward


  • I think that the embargo is stale - and that Cuba actually would be hurt a lot more today if it was suddenly lifted.

    • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ecirpdrahcir]> on Monday October 26, 2015 @12:53PM (#50803773)

      This embargo is what caused the US to seize $26,000 being transferred by a Danish businessman in Denmark to his German suppliers bank in Germany as payment for Cuban cigars, because it violated the US embargo on Cuba.

      It also threw into question the power the US has over the SWIFT system and its ability to interfere in transactions between two third parties. [] []

      • Then maybe he should have payed in Euros.

  • That silly embargo is still active?

    Sheesh, you'd think they'd be over the hole sugar thing by now.

    • That silly embargo is still active?

      Sheesh, you'd think they'd be over the hole sugar thing by now.

      Lesson learned today: Don't Google search that product category while at work.

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      Having a hole in your sugar is something that can cause a long-term grudge. This ain't over.

      • by Tukz ( 664339 )

        I knew it'd happen the moment I pressed submit and noticed my typo.

        I shall take my punishment in appropiate ridicules.

        Yes, that's quantifiable.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Never had anything to with sugar or economics. It was because a) Cuba was an enemy state 90 miles off the coast and b) the Cuban emigres hated Castro and were a powerful voting bloc. After the Soviet Union fell, it was more about B than A.

      Now that communism is good and dead and President Castro the Second is in office, we can start dealing again.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Well, I'm sure that was involved in the original blockade, and may even be the basic reason, but I'm also rather certain that isn't why the blockade was maintained.

        • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

          Sugar wasn't involved in the embargo itself. What happened at one point is that Eisenhower refused to accept an order of sugar from Cuba and didn't export oil to Cuba, but that was a one time thing in the run-up of hostilities and happened before the Kennedy embargo.

          The embargo was purely based on the Cold War and maintained by the Cuban immigrants. Many US businesses have been eager to get back into Cuba, maybe not all of them, but they're not really a factor.

          That's why Obama was able to move. No busine

  • Aside from the "mobile" angle (a valid question), you asked them about a bunch of restrictions they didn't impose.

    It doesn't count as stonewalling to offer no response to "have you stopped beating your wife yet?".
  • Only mobile "apps" are permitted? Really? Why does it feel like we are headed toward outlawing running real "programs" on your own self-controlled computer? Clearly software not approved by Google or Microsoft or Apple is a national security risk. Jailbreaking a toy computer to run un-approved programs, much less write your own, will be a crime. The dumbing-down of the proletariat will be complete when everyone carries a toy computer, also known as a telescreen, that can't be turned off, oh wait, we already
  • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @12:47PM (#50803713)

    The best thing to do when the consequences are multiple huntreds of thousands of dollars, or more, in fines and jail time is to NEVER try it and see unless you have a good idea on what would happen.

    • Actually that's a sound advice if read as it should: "You try it and see. We'll wait."

    • The best thing to do when the consequences are multiple huntreds of thousands of dollars, or more, in fines and jail time is to NEVER try it and see unless you have a good idea on what would happen.

      Any person should be able to ask if a particular action is legal w.r.t. a particular law, beforehand, and be given a straight answer.

      If the government says, "I don't know", then the assumption should be that it is legal, and proceed on that. If government wants to change its mind, Ok, it can clarify, but cannot retroactively punish someone for a previous "I don't know".

      That gives government more power than the Constitution authorizes.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        While I agree with what you say in the first sentence, the second sentence does not follow. The third sentence is correct.

        The thing is, the government ignores the constitution that authorizes it to have any power at all, and gets away with it because of "force majeure", or, if you prefer, "force majeure" (refering back to Norman conquest occupation policies). This is clearly not authorized by the constitution, but it's also pretty plainly present. They hardly even pretend to justify their action by twist

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday October 26, 2015 @01:02PM (#50803877) Journal

    Steel drums, sugar, rum, sun and sand, classic cars. These are the things you think of when you think of Cuba. Software? Only one type of customer would ask this question: People with plans to outsource to Cuba.

    • How difficult would that make things? They could write the software in Cuba and sell it through a subcontractor in a different country. It's not as if software requires a 'Made in' label, and this has been done in the past on the very small-scale, quite lucratively [].

  • What about the apple app store cut / payout system how does that fit in this.

  • But really, who'd want to buy new software made out of refurbished bits and parts of old cold war -era Cobol and Ada source code hacked together with with Bondo compilers and chicken wire linkers?

  • You asked them to clarify a definition. The government rarely comments on such matters. Now you're left with a completely ambiguous legal interpretation.

    Instead ask the question: "I'm doing this, are you okay with it?" The action implies that someone makes a decision on the definition. When the no-comment comes back you can take that as no objection and that is somewhat defensible as it was specific to your case.

  • I just bought the dirt-cheapest GPS module around, a uBlox NEO-6M. It shipped from China, as you might imagine. Unlike most other listings, it had an export warning that said I couldn't send it to the Sudan. Hilarious.

  • Because of internet lacking in places, I import my cuban software on tiny memory cards inside cigars.

  • Buying might still be illegal, but pirating it likely is not ... cough ... cough.

  • that the reason details are 'hazy' is because the change is intended to facilitate something specific? Maybe something sneaky at the State Dept.?

    Which I'm all for btw.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (8) I'm on the committee and I *still* don't know what the hell #pragma is for.