Controls in Pop Culture

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s a “Specially Designed” Man of Steel: The ITAR Discussion of 2014

Earlier this year we asked the burning question: “Would Superman Require an ITAR License?” His super-human abilities and “alien” status beg the question of exactly how this legendary hero would be classified. Is he a controlled good or commodity? Would he be classified as a military component under the ITAR, or a dual-use good under the EAR? Would non-U.S. citizens having access to Superman within the United States be considered a release of technology or a deemed export? With so many mind-boggling considerations, we were extremely grateful to our readers for stepping up with their own hypotheses.

According to Nigel M:

“Biggest determination factor in any Commodity Jurisdiction normally is original design intent. Personally I think you would have to look at each task on a case by case basis, as currently U.S. export controls do not control people’s abilities/skills, just who they can share or sell them to.”

From Dawn W.:

“I always thought Superman’s powers were a natural physical attribute versus the suit. Lesson learned: always consult technical experts during jurisdiction and classification analysis!” She added, “If you were to hire him, you’d need a DSP-5 for the Foreign National status!”

Steve S. was adamant that the Man of Steel would not require a license:

“Absolutely not. Any man or woman with the word ‘Super’ in their name…and the ability to fly faster than a speeding bullet should not be messed with. Period!”

Dennis K. was also firmly in the anti-ITAR camp:

“ITAR, I think not! But wait, does he meet the ‘Specially Modified or Adapted’ criteria? Great Caesar’s Ghost, this is a tough one!”

In the end we decided to simply apply for a Commodity Jurisdiction and let the U.S. government help us out with the appropriate classification. However, if you’re still developing theories of your own in the months to come, we’d love to hear them!