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ACS Ends Limited Publishing Moratorium

by Sophie L. Rovner
February 23, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 8

The American Chemical Society is resuming immediately the publication of journal articles written by authors in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan.

Robert D. Bovenschulte, president of the society's Publications Division, writes in a memorandum to ACS journal editors that he had "reluctantly instituted" a moratorium as a temporary measure last November to protect ACS and its editors and employees while the society evaluated the issues and risks stemming from a late-September Treasury Department ruling (C&EN, Nov. 24, 2003, page 25). The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had ruled that providing editorial services to authors in these countries would violate U.S. trade sanctions.

Earlier this month, however, an OFAC official provided some clarifications at a meeting of concerned publishers, according to Bovenschulte. Although not formal or conclusive, these clarifications opened the way for ACS to decide that it should resume publishing articles from authors in the embargoed countries. In fact, several publishers opted to continue business as usual despite the OFAC ruling. Their stance has been lent support by the Association of American Publishers, which issued a legal analysis saying that the ruling violates trade-related legislation and the First Amendment.

More proactive steps may be forthcoming to resolve the dispute. Bovenschulte says, "A number of scientific publishers, including ACS, have recently formed a litigation task force that is considering legal action in the courts if other avenues for redress fail to overturn the OFAC ruling in the near future."


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