April 2006


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Louis Proyect <[log in to unmask]>
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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 20 Apr 2006 08:53:35 -0400
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The Chronicle of Higher 
Today's News
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Geology Journal Cites U.S. Policy in Rejecting 2 Papers Tied to Iran


Rekindling a controversy that many academics thought had ended more than a 
year ago, a scientific publisher has rejected two papers because of their 
authors' connections to Iran.

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists turned down the 
manuscripts submitted to its AAPG Bulletin because, in one case, an author 
worked for the National Iranian Oil Company, and in the other, the paper's 
authors in Norway had received data from the Iranian oil company.

The association cited a U.S. Treasury Department ruling, released in 
December 2004, that allows American publishers to edit and publish papers 
by authors in certain countries under a trade embargo, including Iran, but 
not if the authors are part of that country's government (The Chronicle, 
December 16, 2004). The association rejected the two papers in separate 
letters dated January 31, 2006, that cited the restriction and said, "Your 
paper is interesting and well written."

"We like to say that geology knows no borders," Richard D. Fritz, the 
association's executive director, said this week. "But we also have to live 
within the laws of our government."

Others believe the geologists are being overly cautious. "The regulations 
only prohibit the publication of new works by the government of Iran," said 
Linda Steinman, a lawyer in the New York City office of Davis Wright 
Tremaine. "I personally do not believe that would extend to members of 
industry or authors who use data from an industry," she said, even if it is 

The Treasury Department rule, which also covers Cuba and Sudan, defines 
"government of Iran" to mean "the state and the government of Iran, as well 
as any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, which 
includes the Central Bank of Islamic Republic of Iran; and any person 
acting or purporting to act directly or indirectly on behalf of any of the 
foregoing ..."

Craig Blackstock, the association's lawyer, said it was concerned about 
"what makes the government of Iran a party to the transaction." Just using 
the national oil company's data may do so, he said. The association will 
seek clarification from the Treasury Department to find out if that 
interpretation is correct, he said.

One critic called the association a "coward." Marc H. Brodsky, who is 
executive director of the American Institute of Physics and chairman of the 
Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of 
American Publishers, accused the geologists' association of being 
"completely in violation of the traditions of freedom of press in the 
United States."

The publishing division led by Mr. Brodsky and three other publishing 
groups sued the government in September 2004, citing the First Amendment, 
over the regulations, which were then in flux. Ms. Steinman represents them 
in the lawsuit. The publishers did not drop the lawsuit after the December 
2004 determination reversed earlier, more-restrictive rulings. The 
publishers are now negotiating the wording of a new regulation with the 
government, according to Mr. Brodsky.