4 August 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

Columbia hit with restraining order in Encyclopaedia Iranica case

A non-profit organisation has won a temporary restraining order barring Columbia University from publishing copies of the Encyclopaedia Iranica resource.

Both the  Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation (EIF) and  Columbia University claim rights to publish works under the Encyclopaedia Iranica name.

The dispute is currently the subject of  litigation at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, but EIF claims that Columbia has been pressing ahead with plans to publish its own version of the encyclopaedia.

District Judge Analisa Torres has now barred the university from doing so until August 14, when she will consider EIF’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

In an opinion issued last Friday, July 31, Torres concluded that the “balance of hardships tip in EIF’s favor, and public interest is not disserved by issuing the temporary restraining order”.

The parties now have a week before they must submit any additional documentary evidence in support of their case on the preliminary injunction requested by EIF.

If granted, the injunction could stop Columbia publishing its own version of Encyclopaedia Iranica until the litigation is resolved.

EIF last Friday published volume 16 of Encyclopaedia Iranica on its website, where all previous editions of the resource are hosted.

Columbia  sued EIF last August, accusing the non-profit of falsely claiming to be the rightful copyright owners.

EIF was founded in 1990 by the late Iranian historian Ehsan Yarshater, who was the founder and director of The Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia.

Columbia claims EIF began to list itself as the claimant on copyright registrations for the encyclopaedia in 2003, without the university’s knowledge.

The university wants the New York court to rule that EIF is not the owner of any copyright or trademarks in the resource.

EIF, meanwhile, claims that Columbia is trying to assign rights to publish Encyclopaedia Iranica to Brill, a publisher which the foundation says has made no contribution to the work.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories sent like this straight to your inbox.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

12 August 2019   New York-based Columbia University has accused a company established by late historian Ehsan Yarshater of falsely claiming to be the copyright owner of the Encyclopedia Iranica, a scholarly resource on Persian and Iranian history.
18 September 2019   A foundation established by the late historian Ehsan Yarshater has taken Columbia University to court, one month after the university sued the foundation over ownership of the Encyclopedia Iranica, a scholarly resource on Persian and Iranian history.