Issue Date: October 4, 2004
LAWSUIT TARGETS TREASURY RULES
The simmering dispute over government restrictions on publishing has boiled over again, with four groups suing the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in federal court in New York City on Sept. 27. The plaintiffs are the Association of American Publishers' Professional & Scholarly Publishing (AAP/PSP) Division, the Association of American University Presses, PEN American Center, and Arcade Publishing. The American Chemical Society, through its membership in AAP, is participating in the suit. The society is providing $25,000 in financial backing for the effort.
In a joint statement, the plaintiffs say they are "asking the court to strike down OFAC regulations that require publishers and authors to seek a license from the government to perform the routine activities necessary to publish foreign literature from embargoed countries such as Iran, Cuba, and the Sudan in the U.S."
It violates the First Amendment, and "government should not be requiring a license before a publisher can publish," says AAP President Patricia S. Schroeder. "America has always been proud of the fact [that] it has allowed a free marketplace of ideas. If the government requires clearance before one can publish legally, that free marketplace is gutted."
OFAC maintains that publishers who carry out these activities without a license may run afoul of regulations that control dealings with nations under U.S. trade sanction. The plaintiffs argue that licenses aren't needed because trade legislation passed by Congress exempts informational materials from trade embargoes.
"Our most basic liberties are violated when we, as publishers, have to either ask the government for permission to publish or risk serious criminal and civil penalties if we do not obtain permission," says Marc H. Brodsky, chairman of AAP/PSP and executive director of the American Institute of Physics, in the statement.
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
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