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The United States has agreed to permit publishers to print scientific papers and other academic material from countries — such as Cuba, Iran and Sudan — on which it has imposed trade sanctions.

The decision follows an earlier claim by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that publication of research from these countries would threaten US national security.

In October, a group of publishers and authors issued a lawsuit against OFAC over its ruling that publishing articles from so-called embargoed countries would need a special licence (See Publishers sue over US 'ban on editing'). Violating this embargo would mean heavy fines for the publishers.

The requirement to obtain a government licence was described by the publishers as being "unconstitutional".

Although a representative of the groups filing the lawsuit called the latest decision 'positive', he said that their next decision is whether to proceed with the lawsuit.

Link to full Nature news story

Reference: Nature 432, 940 (2004)