Editing Embargo Ends

by Jon Mandle on December 16, 2004

Back in September, 2003, the U.S. Treasury ruled that the U.S. trade embargos against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan meant that U.S. publishers had to apply for a special license in order to edit scholarly works produced by citizens of those countries. Violations could result in fines of up to $1 million and 10 years in prison. The ruling allowed the publication of those works, but only if they were not edited, since that would be providing a valuable service. The Office of Foreign Assets Control wrote that trade policy prohibits “the reordering of paragraphs or sentences, correction of syntax, grammar, and replacement of inappropriate words by U.S. persons.”

The Chronicle reports (subscription required) that the decision has been reversed. Now U.S. persons can provide Iranian authors the service of replacing inappropriate words.



cleek 12.16.04 at 6:52 pm

Freedom is on the march.


Amardeep 12.16.04 at 6:54 pm

This sounds like it’s in response to the lawsuit Shirin Ebadi was threatening to file.

I’ll be curious to hear her description of the Iranian theocracy. Though she is obviously a dissident, it sounds like what she has in mind is a bit of a defense of the Iranian way:

For many years now, I have wanted to write my memoir – a book that would help correct Western stereotypes of Islam, especially the image of Muslim women as docile, forlorn creatures. Sixty-three percent of Iran’s university students and 43 percent of its salaried workers are women. I have wanted to tell the story of how women in Islamic countries, even one run by a theocratic regime as in Iran, can be active politically and professionally.


Jon Mandle 12.16.04 at 7:48 pm

Yes – Shirin Ebadi joined four other paintiffs in a suit that forced the issue. The others were: The Association of American Publishers’ Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, the Association of American University Presses, the PEN American Center, and Arcade Publishing.


david k. 12.16.04 at 9:05 pm

Completely tangential question: What’s a “U.S. person”? Is this a technical category? If so, is it broader than “citizen”?


rvman 12.16.04 at 9:40 pm

“U.S. Person” includes both actual human beings and corporate entities in the US. Thus, Random House can’t edit a Cuban manuscript, even if they outsource it to Europe.


Mrs Tilton 12.17.04 at 11:28 am

‘U.S. person’ means something rather different for American securities law purposes. Or perhaps it’s not different: if that’s the case, then US citizens resident abroad could have edited Iranians, whilst foreigners resident in America could not have done. Random House in America would have had to leave its hands off, but a branch office in London, so long as established for legitimate business purposes and not to circumvent the rule, would have been free to edit.

To know what ‘U.S. person’ really meant in the context of this rule, I suppose I’d have to have a look at the text, and hope they’d been good enough to define the term. But I’m far too lazy to do that, all the more so now that it is a moot point.

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