Publishers sue over US ‘ban on editing’

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A group of publishers and authors is suing the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) over its ruling that “substantively editing” articles from so-called embargoed countries requires a government licence. The publishers say that the regulation breaks US law and the First Amendment of the country’s constitution, which protects freedom of speech.

Last October, OFAC relented on original regulations that required government permission to publish research from the embargoed countries — Cuba, Iran, Libya, and Sudan. The officials maintained however that major editing to improve an article would constitute a service to such countries. Those breaking the embargo face a maximum ten-year jail sentence and a fine of up to US$1 million.

OFAC has also been accused of ‘doubletalk’; this July it allowed US newspapers to substantively edit articles from the embargoed countries. A district court in New York is expected to make a decision on a request for a temporary injunction of the OFAC ruling by mid-November, but publishers are seeking a permanent injunction in the long run.

Link to full news story in The Scientist