FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 1999
TDD (202) 514-1888
PANEL ISSUES DECISION ON COMPENSATION FOR ZAPRUDER FILM DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE STATEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An arbitration panel appointed to determine how much the government will pay for the film of President John F. Kennedy's assassination said today that the heirs of the late Abraham Zapruder will receive $16 million for the film. The decision, which is final and binding, was handed down in a two-to-one decision by the arbitration panel, chaired by the Honorable Arlin M. Adams, a former Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The LMH Company, the former owner of the film, sought $30 million. Government experts testified that the film's value was between $784,000 and $1 million.
Arbitrator Walter Dellinger disagreed with the other two members of the panel, on the grounds that an award of $16 million was "simply too large an amount in light of the evidence in the record." Dellinger said that an award of $3 to $5 million would have been ample.
David W. Ogden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, issued the following statement:
"Today's decision by the Arbitration Panel secures the original Zapruder film for the public and guarantees that it will be preserved in the National Archives, where it belongs. The resolution of these issues ensures that this evidence of one of the most tragic events in American history will be protected for scholarly and research uses."
* * *
A law passed by Congress in 1992 requires that all records of President Kennedy's assassination be transferred to the National Archives so that they may be preserved and copies may be made available to the public for personal study, research, and other non-commercial purposes. Under that law, on August 1, 1998, the camera original of the film became public property when it was transferred to the JFK Records Collection at the Archives.
The Constitution requires the government to provide just compensation to the owners of private property that is taken for the public good. Under the terms of LMH Company's agreement with the government, LMH will retain ownership of the copyright of the film and control over commercial uses of the film.