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2020. 8 Oct Ehsan Yarshater, a Persian academic scholar and a historian and linguist by training, founded the Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, New York in 1968. The center changed its name later to the Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies. He dedicated his life to creating the Encyclopedia that would cover anything Iranian studies related – a comprehensive reference for Iranology. He began to physically publish Encyclopaedia Iranica in 1973 with the first volume becoming available in 1981.

Approximately 7,100 articles have been published in print or online in the Encyclopedia of Iranica after four decades. If one includes cross-reference, the total of entries would be over 9,000.

In 1990, Professor Yarshater established the Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation to ensure the continuation of this comprehensive scholarly work. He was the Foundation’s President until his passing at the age of 98 in 2018.

Columbia University and the Encyclopædia Iranica became involved in two lawsuits: In the first, Columbia University asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to rule that Columbia owned the copyright of Encyclopedia of Iranica. In the second the EIF accused Columbia university of infringing Iranica’s copyrights and misusing their trademarks. A year later, in July 2020, the court granted the EIF a temporary restraining order to prevent Columbia from using the “Encyclopaedia Iranica” name connected with its publications. As a result, Columbia University had to stop publishing facsimile 6 of Volume XVI of the encyclopedia. The restraining order was lifted in October 2020.

The ruling by the New York court not only granted the Yarshater Center at Columbia University the right to publish Encyclopaedia Iranica but by implication viewed Columbia as the legitimate holder of Iranica’s copyright. The legal battle continues. [Radio Maneh]

New York; NY Encyclopædia Iranica; Encyclopedias; Columbia University; Ehsan Yarshater

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