Monday, September 27, 2004

Trade embargoes for editing services? 

This seems to make no sense to me:

Calling restrictions on publishing contrary to the First Amendment and acts of Congress, a group of publishers' and authors' associations expects to file suit today against the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces regulations against countries under a U.S. trade embargo.

The lawsuit, which will be filed in federal court in New York, asks for an immediate injunction against enforcement of the regulations, which require publishers to file requests for licenses to edit articles and books by authors in embargoed countries, such as Cuba, Iran, and Sudan. The suit also asks the court to strike down the regulations.

The Treasury Department office, known as OFAC, has previously justified the regulations on the grounds that editing the papers and books of foreign authors provides them with a service, and thus violates trade embargoes.

Somehow I think that if the paper to be copy-edited or reformatted was a call for reform against Castro or the mullahs, the embargo would not be enforced. I'm trying to figure out cui bono here. Somebody help me out, because this looks brain-dead.

Source: Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only.)

UPDATE: John Wenger also has a problem understanding this (second item) and has spent more time thinking about it. Money graf:
...when we publish an author from any foreign nation in a scientific journal, the idea is tobenefit science in general and science in this country, not in the author�s country. He can publishin his own country if he wants to accomplish that. What this means is that we are actually preventing ourselves from benefiting from what someone does because we don�t like his country. Why would we do that?