Columbia Statement on Encyclopaedia Iranica Litigation

February 20, 2020

On August 9, 2019, Columbia University filed a federal lawsuit seeking a judicial declaration confirming that copyright in the Encyclopaedia Iranica (Iranica) is owned by Columbia, and not by the Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation (EIF). The lawsuit states that Iranica, founded and originally edited by the late Professsor Ehsan Yarshater, began publication at Columbia’s Center for Iranian Studies in 1982, almost ten years before EIF was established. The copyright in Iranica is and has always been owned by Columbia under the University’s policies, as EIF itself acknowledged until at least 2018.

Columbia determined this action was necessary after EIF began to assert copyright ownership in Iranica and to interfere with the Center’s publication of Iranica. In response, EIF filed a parallel lawsuit alleging various claims against Columbia. The litigation is unlikely to be resolved soon.

Unfortunately, EIF’s actions have delayed and interfered with Columbia’s scheduled editing and publication of Iranica, and have caused confusion among contributors and other scholars in the field. Contributors and scholars should be aware that the website is not under the control of Columbia, and that the publication of Iranica that is currently accessible on that website is not authorized by Columbia. The accuracy and faithfulness to earlier published versions of the work cannot be assumed. In addition, communications addressed to that website are not being forwarded to the Center.

Contributors and scholars should also know that Columbia has recently published Fascicle XVI/5 of Iranica under an agreement with Brill Academic Publishers, which is available at Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands, and the University has entered into an agreement with Brill for online publication of Iranica (click here for more information).

Contributors may contact the Center at its office at 450 Riverside Drive, Suite 4, New York, NY 10027 or with respect to submissions, editing, production, and scheduling matters. Libraries and others seeking access to the authorized Iranica may contact Brill.

Columbia regrets that EIF’s actions have caused confusion and delay. We assure the scholarly community that Columbia is dedicated to ensuring that Iranica remains an accessible and reliable scholarly resource notwithstanding the pending legal action.