On April 13, 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published in the Federal Register amendments to the Syrian Sanctions Regulations. Specifically, OFAC, by a new General License, has authorized "certain activities relating to publishing, not already exempt from regulation, that support the publishing and marketing of manuscripts, books, journals, and newspapers in paper and electronic format."

Although "information or informational materials" are generally not subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the new General License seeks to cover an area that is not covered by the general exemption.

The activities permitted by the new regulation do not apply if the parties to the transactions include the Government of Syria or any other person whose interests in property are blocked. Academic or research institutions and their personnel are not included within the definition of "Government of Syria."

Provided that the activities by U.S. persons do not fall within the scope of certain activities identified in the new regulation, authorized activities include:

  • commissioning and making advance payments for identifiable written publications not yet in existence (subject to industry practices);
  • collaborating on the creation and enhancement of written publications;
  • augmenting written publications through the addition of items, such as photographs, artwork, translation, explanatory text and, for a written publication in electronic format, the addition of embedded software necessary for reading, browsing, navigating or searching the written publication; and
  • exporting embedded software necessary for the above purposes, provided that the software is either classified as EAR 99 or is not subject to the EAR.

It may be prudent for any person, prior to exportation, to consider obtaining a written classification determination from the Bureau of Industry and Security confirming that the software falls within EAR 99 or is not subject to the EAR.

Also authorized by the new regulation are substantive editing of written publications, payment of royalties for written publications, creating or undertaking a marketing campaign to promote a written publication and other transactions that are necessary and ordinarily incident to the publishing and marketing authorized by the new General License.

Sections 542.532(b) through (d) identify specific exclusions from the scope of authorized activity. Please refer to the Federal Register [Vol. 80, No. 70 (19532-19533)] for more details.