Notice to IDC Publishers
To whom it concerns at IDC Publishers,
Speaking on behalf of the Communist Party of the United States of
America (CPUSA) as their representative in this matter, this is to inform
you that the publication of "Files of the Communist Party of the USA
(CPUSA) in the Comintern Archives" (sic) is an act of piracy of materials
belonging to the CPUSA and legally deeded to the Reference Center for
Marxist Studies as the only designated depository of all their original
papers and documentation.
The material sent to the Soviet Union of which this collection consists were
not deeded or given for accession to the USSR or the Comintern. There is no
documentation of any legal transfer. The papers of the CPUSA (like those
of other Communist Parties which earlier requested and received back their
material) were sent to the USSR for safe keeping during a period of periodic
US government witchhunts and illegal confiscations of material, a practice
which began with the Bridgman Convention in 1921 and continued at least
through the end of the COINTELPRO domestic espionage program of the FBI in
The representative of the US Library of Congress, John Earl Haynes, after
the fall of the USSR, was apprised of the existence of this unprocessed
cache of material which had, by appearance, never been used, but remained
rather in safe keeping and a deal was struck for the purchase of a microfilm
copy of this entire collection for deposit at the Library of Congress.
The Russian State Archives had no documents establishing the transfer of
ownership of this material to them or their predecessors and claimed quite
brazenly that the American material was theirs by virtue of recently passed
An attorney representing us apprised both the Library of Congress and the
Russian State Archives that this material, generated by the activities of
the still very much existing organization, the CPUSA, was not theirs to
dispose of, reformat, accession, sell.
The Society of Amertican Archivists (SAA) even investgated the matter and
found grounds to offer mediation in the matter, an offer which was
peremptorily rejected by the Library of Congress.
This LC / RSA microfilm project was carried out without even notification of
the CPUSA, no less its cooperation. The SAA Professional Ethics committee
saw sufficient ethical and legal issues in this and its sequelae to call
upon the parties to meet for discussion and mediation. This was outrightly
refused by the Library of Congress.
The shoddy microfilm which the LC had obtained and announced as available
with much fanfare as 'the secret archives of the Communist Party' were sold
to LC in a single microfilm copy with the Russian State Archives maintaining
possesion of the originals, although they too never contacted the CPUSA or
responded to its inquiries.
The fact is that the RSA had no rights to reformat and sell this material to
the Library of Congress and the Library of Congress, in turn, had no rights
to arrange for the publication of this material for commercial sale by your
firm at over $34,000 a copy.
Mr. John Earl Haynes of Library of Congress, with the knowledge of Librarian
of Congress James Billington, abused his initial exclusive access to this
material in Russia to assemble two commercially offered, entirely tendentious
books defaming the CPUSA, published under his editorship.
He has then gone on, in the same unethical and illegal spirit to arrange
-- justified by the dubious reasons of the material's alleged "special
significance for scholars" -- for your firm to publish and sell the entire
collection, reformatted again and under his own editorship.
As neither he nor the Russian State Archives had the rights to this
material and both pointedly refused to meet or communicate with the
generators of this archival series who never reinquished their rights over
the material, you are, I am afraid, engaged in the piracy of the material
clearly produced by and owned by the CPUSA (since it is even advertised as
such!) for commercial exploitation through the sale of copies of the entire
series or even parts thereof.
Note that we have every intention of making this material fully available
through our own auspices, and no desire to withhold any information. We will
not however be treated as if we have no legitimate interets in the fate of
our own papers.
I, therefore, as designated Director of the archival program of the CPUSA
under the independent incorporated Reference Center for Martist Studies,
NYC, have been asked to inform you that you must immediately cease and
desist in the marketing of our papers in any format.
Failure to do so will result in aggressive legal action.
It will also initiate a campaign of publicity of your firm's unethical and
illegal action in the library press, the archival press and the general
press including the circulation of petitions and the solicitation of
scholarly support. The reputation of your firm would certainly be damaged in
You will be contacted by our attorney shortly.
In the meantime it would behoove you to discontinue the marketing of this
pirated material and contact us explaining that you have done so pending a
Mark C. Rosenzweig
Chief librarian & archivist
Reference Center for Marxist Studies