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BLOCK v. SMITH

April 2, 1984

MITCHELL BLOCK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WILLIAM FRENCH SMITH, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

 I. Introduction

 
. . . any oral, visual, graphic, written, pictorial, or other communication or expression by any person (1) which is reasonably adapted to, or which the person disseminating the same believes will, or which he intends to, prevail upon, indoctrinate, convert, induce, or in any other way influence a recipient or any section of the public within the United States with reference to the political or public interests, policies, or relations of a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party or with reference to the foreign policies of the United States or promote in the United States racial, religious, or social dissensions . . .

 22 U.S.C. § 611(j).

 If it is determined that an agent is transmitting any "political propaganda" "for or in the interests" of the foreign principal, the agent is required under the FARA to file a statement with the Attorney General within 48 hours of the transmittal of the material setting forth full information as to the places, times and extent of such transmittal. 22 U.S.C. § 614(a). The Act also requires that the agent affix a label to any material that has been deemed "political propaganda." 22 U.S.C. § 614(b). The label is to reveal "that the person transmitting the political propaganda . . . or causing it to be transmitted is registered . . . as an agent of a foreign principal" among other things. The labelling requirement of the FARA is not at issue in this case since the parties, by agreement, determined that the requirement did not apply to the plaintiffs herein. See Defendants' Memorandum at para.. 2; Clarkson Declaration at para. 4; Plaintiff's Memorandum at p. 1. In addition, the statute and the regulations do not require the Department's label of political propaganda to appear on the film at the time of its showing to the public in any theater or other exhibition method where the public might see the film either publicly or privately. Defendants' Statement of Material Facts at para. 9.

 By regulation, the Justice Department requires the filing of Form OBD-69 which calls for the agent to disclose "names and addresses of persons or organizations receiving 100 copies or more" of the materials and specifically for films, the names of any "station, organization, or theater" using the film irrespective of the number of copies received. 28 C.F.R. § 5.401 (1983); See Declaration of Charlie Sims at Exhibit A.

 This case centers around three films that were produced by the NFBC. The NFBC office in New York City has since 1947 registered with the Attorney General's Office as an agent of the NFBC, which they have conceded is a part of the Canadian government. See Defendants' Reply Memorandum at Exhibit A, paras. 6, 9. Its most recent supplemental registration statement describes its activities on behalf of the government of Canada as the:

 
Promotion and distribution through commercial and non-commercial channels of Canadian Government information documentary, and cultural films, filmstrips, and other visual aid materials to public film libraries, educational institutions, government agencies, etc. Activities also include dissemination of catalogues, folders and information sheets describing the films distributed; participation at conferences, seminars and other functions pertaining to the use of audiovisual materials.

 Clarkson Declaration at Exhibit B.

 In accordance with the requirements of the FARA, the NFBC periodically submits information to the Justice Department on its activities, including the titles of films it transmits within the United States. See e.g., Clarkson Declaration at Exhibit B. In the fall of 1982, the Department decided to review five films from a list of 62 films and videotapes distributed by the NFBC during January to June of 1982. See Jensen Statement at p. 6. On January 13, 1983, the Registration Unit of the Justice Department informed the NFBC that three of the five films constituted "political propaganda" within the meaning of 22 U.S.C. § 611(j). Clarkson Declaration at Exhibit A. The three films were entitled If You Love This Planet, a film depicting the perils of nuclear war, and Acid from Heaven and Acid Rain: Requiem or Recovery, two films concerning the alleged detrimental effects of acid rain on the environment.

 Because the Department had found the films to fall within the "political propaganda" definition of § 611(j), the NFBC was informed that it would be required to affix a label identifying the foreign source of the films, and in addition, be required to file the statement concerning the dissemination of the materials pursuant to § 614 of the FARA. Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 5.2, the plaintiffs in this case, who are not affiliated with the NFBC, wrote the Department of Justice in an attempt to clarify their obligations under the FARA. When the Department did not respond, this action ensued. *fn3"

 The Court has before it cross-motions for summary judgment and defendants Motion to dismiss on the ground that plaintiffs lack standing to maintain this action. Upon consideration of the parties' memoranda and the entire record herein, the Court is compelled under these facts and under the law to conclude that plaintiffs have failed to allege sufficient ...


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