Notice to IDC Publishers

11/7/02

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 1970s.

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 'Russian law.'

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 this eventuality.

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 legal decision.

Mark C. Rosenzweig
Director
Chief librarian & archivist
Reference Center for Marxist Studies

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Last update, November 2002. Webmaster: rcms@libr.org.