GOVERNMENT ENDS EDITING EMBARGO | April 12, 2004 Issue - Vol. 82 Issue 15 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 82 Issue 15 | p. 5 | News of The Week
Issue Date: April 12, 2004


Treasury Department backs down from its earlier position on editing services
Department: ACS News, Government & Policy

Bombarded by protests from publishers, researchers, and elected officials, the Treasury Department has lifted its ban on the publication of peer-reviewed and edited scientific journal articles written by authors in countries under U.S. trade sanction. The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) conceded that its regulatory programs do not prohibit the routine activities necessary to prepare such articles for publication.

The issue originally arose in 2001 over a conference sponsored in Iran by the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers. After learning that services associated with the meeting might violate government regulations, IEEE decided it had to limit activities involving Iran, including the editing of papers written by authors in that nation. Subsequently, the American Chemical Society reluctantly imposed a moratorium in November 2003 on publishing articles from Iran and other sanctioned countries--Cuba, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan--fearing that the society could otherwise incur serious penalties from the government.

But publishers and their supporters refused to let the matter rest. For months, they have been trying to get OFAC to reverse its position on the grounds that the government ban violated trade-related legislation and the First Amendment. After judging that its customary publishing activities were lawful, ACS took a calculated risk and resumed publishing papers from the affected countries in mid-February (C&EN, Feb. 23, page 6). Then on April 2, IEEE received a letter from OFAC Director R. Richard Newcomb acknowledging that the institute's publishing activities do not "entail the prohibited exportation of services to Iran or another sanctioned country."

Robert D. Bovenschulte, president of ACS's Publications Division, said the society "has always believed that scholarly publishing should not be constrained by federal regulation. We are pleased to learn that the Treasury Department concurs."

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