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Co-Plaintiffs Respond to Treasury Department Regulation Revisions

Treasury Department Responds to Lawsuit by Changing its Regulations to Permit the Publication of Books and Journals from Authors in Sanctioned Countries

In September 2004, publishers’ and authors’ organizations filed suit in federal court to strike down regulations of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control that effectively bar U.S. publishers from publishing books and journal articles originating in countries such as Iran, Cuba and Sudan that are subject to U.S. trade embargoes. Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian author and human rights activist, filed a related suit in late October. In response to the suits, OFAC issued new regulations today which explicitly permit Americans to engage in “all transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to the publishing and marketing of manuscripts, books, journals, and newspapers in paper or electronic format.” This includes substantive editing and marketing of written materials, collaborations between authors, and the payment of advances and royalties.

The revised regulations are “clearly a step in the right direction, permitting the broad range of publishing activities American publishers and authors must be free to pursue,” according to Edward J. Davis and Linda Steinman of Davis Wright Tremaine, counsel to the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), the Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division (AAP/PSP), PEN American Center (PEN), and Arcade Publishing, the plaintiffs in the case. “We will continue to examine the regulations in detail, but it is plain that significant obstacles have been removed for American publishers and authors who want to work with authors in Cuba, Iran and Sudan. Works of critical importance to the advancement of science and our understanding of international affairs can now be published without threat of civil and criminal sanctions.Even works written by Iranian and Cuban dissidents could not be published in the United States under the prior regulations.” 

For links to the relevant OFAC rulings and additional materials, read more here.

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