Intellectual Freedom

The freedom to publish, the freedom to read, and academic freedom are core values for the Association of American University Presses.


See also the extensive guide to scholarship on intellectual freedom in Books for Understanding: Free Expression and the First Amendment.

AAUP works with several organizations to follow and respond to developing issues in intellectual freedom. Many of these organizations and offices have a primary mission of supporting intellectual freedom and maintain extensive online resources.

Banned Books Week

AAP Freedom to Read and International Freedom to Publish Committees

American Booksellers for Free Expression

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

IPA Freedom to Publish

The Free Expression Network

National Coalition Against Censorship

Issues and Events

Banned Books Week

AAUP is proud to be an official sponsor of Banned Books Week. Intellectual freedom is a core value of the Association, and the freedom to read is as vital as the freedom to publish. Learn more about AAUP's support of Banned Books Week >

Principles of Net Neutrality

Proposals to allow ISPs to create paid “fast lanes” and other threats to open and equitable online access for all users, content, and services also threaten the underlying mission of the nonprofit members of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP). AAUP supports the “Net Neutrality Principles” issued by eleven library and higher education groups on July 10, 2014, in the interest of protecting the foundational freedoms of thought and expression on which our culture and society rests.
Read moreicon.pdf > 

The Campaign for Reader Privacy

Since 2004, AAUP has supported the efforts of the Campaign for Reader Privacy and its sponsor organizations to "restore the safeguards for reader privacy that were eliminated by the USA Patriot Act," particularly Section 215 of that Act which weakened judicial oversight from broad requests for bookstore and library records and slapped an unconstitutional gag order on any library or bookstore receiving an order for such records. Amendments to a reauthorized Patriot Act have ameliorated some of the dangers of Section 215, but reader privacy is still at risk and the Campaign continues its work.

Protecting Public Participation

In June 2014, AAUP issued a memorandum in support of New York State anti-SLAPP legislation, the Citizen Participation Protection Act (S.7280/A.856). Not infrequently, AAUP’s members release works on controversial topics of current import; occasionally, these efforts make them targets for SLAPP (“Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”) litigation. As small, nonprofit organizations, university presses are particularly ill positioned to withstand the financial havoc such lawsuits can wreak.
Read the memo of supporticon.pdf.

US v. Stevens

In July 2009, AAUP joined librarians, publishers, writers, and other media groups in an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a federal statute that they assert creates an overbroad exemption to the First Amendment. The law in question was intended to prevent the creation and distribution of a particularly cruel and obscene class of videos that depicted the crushing of small animals. The language of the bill, however, was dangerously overbroad, potentially criminalizing works of journalism, literature, and scholarship clearly protected by the First Amendment. On April 20, 2010, the Supreme Court struck down the law in question.
Read the Court's opinionicon.pdf.

Lawsuit Against the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

In September 2004, AAUP and co-plaintiffs AAP/PSP, PEN American Center, and Arcade Publishing filed suit against the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to overturn unconstitutional regulations on the editing and publishing of works originating in sanctioned countries. OFAC eventually revised those regulations and the suit was dismissed without prejudice in 2007. AAUP hosts an archive of legal documentation, press and advisory materials, and links to news stories on the OFAC suit. Read more >

"Harmful to Minors"

The University of Minnesota Press, a member of AAUP since 1937, was put under substantial political pressure in 2002 for publishing a controversial book by Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex. AAUP issued a statement in support of the Press's right to publish this and other peer-reviewed scholarship of value, as did many individuals and organizations in the academic community.

Preserving Access to Presidential Records

On November 1, 2001, then-President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233, severely restricting the public's access to presidential records. AAUP joined a broad coalition of organizations supporting a legal challenge to the Order by Public Citizen, historical associations, and several prominent historians. The order was struct down in part in 2007, and President Barack Obama revoked it entirely in Executive Order 13489, issued on his first day in office. Read the press release on amici filingicon.pdf