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The OFAC Lawsuit


In 2004, AUPresses (then AAUP) and co-plaintiffs the Professional and Scholarly Publishing (PSP) division of the Association of American Publishers, PEN America (then PEN American Center), and Arcade Publishing, filed suit against the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury. The action was in response to OFAC regulations illegally preventing US publishers from editing (and thus publishing) the work of citizens of nations under sanction, such as Iran and Cuba. A second suit was filed on behalf of Iranian author Shirin Ebadi. The regulations were revised, and both suits were eventually resolved favorably in 2007. Several plaintiffs, including AUPresses, continue to monitor OFAC sanctions.

Background to Suit
Endangered Projects
Press Releases
AUPresses Members Resources (archived)

Plaintiffs’ Documents

AUPresses, AAP/PSP, PEN, Arcade Suit
Ebadi Suit

Relevant OFAC Rulings and Materials

Guidance on Certain Publishing Activities, 10/28/16
Final Ruling: General License for Publishing Activities, 12/17/04

The following OFAC materials are no longer available at the original URLs:

  • September 15, 2003: OFAC ruling on licensing works to Iranian publishers
  • September 26, 2003: OFAC ruling on exchange of information between Iranian and U.S. authors
  • September 30, 2003: OFAC ruling to IEEE
  • April 2, 2004 OFAC: ruling to IEEE
  • July 6, 2004: OFAC ruling on translation project grants
  • July 19, 2004: OFAC ruling on newspaper Op-Eds
Other Documents of Interest and Media Coverage

“OFAC Reverses Embargo Ruling,” John Dudley Miller, The Scientist, 12/16/04
“Government Eases Rules on Writers in Sanctioned Countries,”
 Edward Wyatt, The New York Times, 12/16/04
“Will Voices of Dissent Still be Heard?,”
 Scott Martelle, The Los Angeles Times, 12/7/04 
“Iranian Nobel Winner Suing US Over Memoir,”
 Jackie Lyden, All Things Considered, 12/5/04
“Iran Inanity,”
 editorial, The Boston Globe, 12/2/04
“Silencing a Modern Scheherazade,”
 Farzaneh Milani, The Christian Science Monitor, 11/17/04
“Bound but Gagged,”
 Shirin Ebadi, The New York Times, 11/16/04
“Nobel Peace Prize Winner to US: Let Me Be Free to Speak My Mind,”
 Richard Leiby, Washington Post, 11/4/04
“Our new sanctions against expression,”
 Myron Kandel,, 11/2/04
“Nobel Laureate Sues U.S. Over Ban,”
 Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, 11/1/04
“Ending Editorial Oversight at Treasury,”
 editorial, The New York Times, 9/29/04
“Treasury Being Sued for Curbs on Editing,”
 Edward Wyatt, The New York Times, 9/28/04
“Publishers Sue US OFAC,”
 John Dudley Miller, The Scientist, 9/28/04
“Lawsuit Challenges Editing Limitations
,” Sophie Rovner, Chemical & Engineering News, 9/27/04
“The Defendant is Charged with Good Editing,” Peter Givler, The Chronicle Review, May 21, 2004
Rep. Berman’s Letter to OFAC regarding IEEE ruling
, March 3, 2004

Me edistämme kansainvälisesti niiden kustantamojen asemaa, joiden missiona on taata akateeminen huippuosaaminen ja vaalia tietoa.

— AUPresses Mission Statement in Finnish