FOIA/PA Request: Prince Rogers Nelson

Joshua Eaton filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.
Tracking # 20163781
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Joshua Eaton

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter constitutes a request under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (collectively, “FOIA/PA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 552, 552a, and the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. § 16, by independent journalist Joshua Eaton. For purposes of this request, the definition of “records” includes, but is not limited to, documents, letters, faxes, memoranda, notes, reports, e-mail messages (including e-mails to and from personal e-mail accounts), other correspondence, orders, policy statements, data, technical evaluations or analysis, and studies. The definition of “records” expressly refers to materials already in existence, whether in physical or electronic form, and does not imply any need for DOJ to create new records.

A. Request for disclosure

I seek disclosure of any and all records or communications created from June 7, 1958, to the date your office processes this request, inclusive, that were prepared, received, transmitted, collected, and/or maintained by the FBI relating or referring to the recording artist Prince Rogers Nelson (born June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minn., U.S.A., and died April 21, 2016, in Chanhassen, Minn., U.S.A.).

I request these records pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 16.3(a)(4) ("Where a request for records pertains to a third party, a requester may receive greater access by ... submitting proof that the individual is deceased (e.g., a copy of a death certificate or an obituary)"). Mr. Nelson died on April 21, 2016, as reported by the Associated Press and other media outlets. See Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Hillel Italie, and Jeff Baenen, "Publicist: Pop Superstar Prince Dies at His Minnesota Home," Associate Press (April 21, 2016), http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBIT_PRINCE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-04-21-14-50-37; Jon Pareles, "Prince Is Dead at 57," New York Times (April 21, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/arts/music/prince-dead.html.

B. Search parameters

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records.

Mr. Nelson used the following aliases and stage names:
• Prince
• Jamie Starr
• Alexander Nevermind
• The Purple One
• Joey Coco
• O(+>
• The Artist
• The Artist Formerly Known as Prince
• TAFKAP
• The Kid
• Azifwekaré
• Ecnirp
• Freddie "The Phantom"
• P. Mann
• Paisley Park
• Rocker Happyfeller
• The New Power Generation Drum Corp
• The Starr Company
• The Symbol
• Tora Tora

In addition, Mr. Nelson performed or was associate with the following musical acts:
• The Revolution
• Wendy and Lisa
• The New Power Generation
• Morris Day and The Time
• Sheila E.
• Vanity 6
• Apollonia 6
• Mazarati
• The Family
• 94 East
• Madhouse
• Anna Fantastic
• Andy Allo
• 3rdeyegirl

Finally, Mr. Nelson recorded with the following record labels:
• Warner Bros.
• Paisley Park
• NPG
• EMI
• Columbia
• Arista
• Universal

Please include the above-listed aliases, musical acts, and record labels in your main-file and cross-reference searches.

C. Request for limitation of processing fees

I request a limitation of processing fees pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II) (“fees shall be limited to reasonable standard charges for document duplication when records are not sought for commercial use and the request is made by ... a representative of the news media”) and 28 C.F.R. §§ 16.11(c)(1)(i) and 16.11(d)(1) (“Search fees shall be charged for all requests — other than requests made by … representatives of the news media,” and “No search fee will be charged for requests by … representatives of the news media”). As a “representative of the news media,” I fit within this statutory and regulatory exemption. Fees associated with the processing of this request should, therefore, be limited accordingly.

I meet the definition of a “representative of the news media” because I am “an entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.” See National Security Archive v. Department of Defense, 880 F.2d 1381, 1387 (D.C. Cir. 1989).

I am a full-time, professional journalist who reports on issues related to politics, security, human rights and religion. My reporting on these topics has appeared in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera, PRI's The World, Teen Vogue and GlobalPost. In addition, I am a former digital producer at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and the former editor-in-chief of Spare Change News, both located in Boston, Mass. A complete list of my publications and my full résumé are available online at https://joshuaeaton.net.

Although I am a freelance journalist, my ongoing professional relationship with editors at a number of outlets ensures any articles I write based on these documents will be published, demonstrating “a solid basis for expecting publication through that organization,” as required by the definition of “representative of the news media” in C.F.R. § 16.11 (b)(6). Under that same regulation, “components shall also look to the past publication record of a requester in making this determination.” Id.

This request is made as part of the news-gathering process and not for commercial purposes. As such, I am entitled to a limitation of processing fees.

In the event that processing fees cannot be limited, please inform me of the anticipated total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.

D. Request for fee waiver

I additionally request a waiver of all costs pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) (“Documents shall be furnished without any charge ... if disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester”) and C.F.R. § 16.11(k)(1) (“Records responsive to a request will be furnished without charge or at a charge reduced below that established … where a component determines, based on all available information, that the requester has demonstrated that … Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and … Disclosure of the information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester”). This request is made as part of the news-gathering process and not for commercial purposes. As such, I am entitled to a fee waiver.

Disclosure in this case meets the statutory criteria, and a fee waiver would fulfill Congress’s legislative intent in amending FOIA. See Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Rossotti, 326 F.3d 1309, 1312 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (“Congress amended FOIA to ensure that it be ‘liberally construed in favor of waivers for noncommercial requesters.’”).

Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest. This request will further public understanding of government conduct; specifically, the FBI’s monitoring, surveillance, and infiltration of organizations on the basis of organizational membership, political views or affiliation, or participation in protest activities or demonstrations. This type of government activity concretely affects many individuals and groups and implicates basic privacy, free speech, and associational rights protected by the Constitution.

Moreover, disclosure of the requested information will aid public understanding of the implications of the Department of Justice’s decision to relax guidelines that previously restricted the FBI’s ability to spy on organizations without a threshold showing of suspected criminal activity. These restrictions were created in response to the Hoover-era FBI’s surveillance of politically active individuals and organizations, despite the lack of evidence that such individuals and organizations had been involved in any unlawful behavior. Understanding the scope of the FBI’s surveillance and infiltration of law-abiding organizations is, therefore, crucial to the public’s interest in understanding the consequences of the Department of Justice’s important change in policy.

As a “representative of the news media,” supra Section C, I am well-situated to disseminate the information I gain from this request to the general public, to targeted communities, and to groups that protect constitutional rights. Because I meet the test for a fee waiver, fees associated with responding to my FOIA/PA requests should be – and regularly are – waived.

The records requested are not sought for commercial use. I plan to disseminate the information disclosed as a result of this FOIA/PA request through the channels

In the event that fees cannot be waived, please inform me of the anticipated total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.

E. Miscellany

Pursuant to applicable regulations and statute, I expect the determination of this request for documents within 20 days of your receipt of this request. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i) and 28 C.F.R. § 16.5(d)(4).

If this request is denied, in whole or in part, please justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions to FOIA/PA. DOJ must also release all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal any decision to withhold any information in whole or in part, to deny the request to limit processing fees, or to deny the request for a fee waiver.

I would prefer the request filled electronically, by email attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,
Joshua Eaton

From: Sobonya, David P. (RMD) (FBI)

Dear Mr. Eaton,

The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.

Requests for fee waivers and expedited processing will be addressed once your request has been assigned an FOIPA request number. You will receive written notification of the FBI’s decision.

Information regarding the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy is available at http://www.fbi.gov<http://www.fbi.gov>/, http://www.fbi.gov/foia/ or http://www.justice.gov/oip. If you require additional assistance please contact us at foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov.

Thank you,

David P. Sobonya
Public Information Officer/GIS
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
Ofc: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4286
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An interim response, stating the request is being processed.

From: Joshua Eaton

Dear Administrator,

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (collectively, “FOIA/PA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 552, 552a, and the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. § 16.

On April 21, 2016, I made the following FOIA/PA request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"):

"I seek disclosure of any and all records or communications created from June 7, 1958, to the date your office processes this request, inclusive, that were prepared, received, transmitted, collected, and/or maintained by the FBI relating or referring to the recording artist Prince Rogers Nelson (born June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minn., U.S.A., and died April 21, 2016, in Chanhassen, Minn., U.S.A.)."

At that time, I requested a reduction of processing fees and a fee waiver.

Your agency acknowledged receipt of my request by email that same day.

On May 4, 2016, I received a letter from your agency further acknowledging receipt of my request and assigning it case number 1349483-000. That letter denied my request for requester status as a "representative of the news media" on the following basis:

"You failed to provide a solid basis to demonstrate that you are a freelance journalist expecting publication through a news-media entity. A publication contract would provide a solid basis for such an expectation."

I have not received any correspondence from your agency since May 4.

A. Appealing denial of requester status as a "representative of the news media"

As stated in my original request, I am a full-time, professional journalist who reports on politics, security, human rights and religion. I regularly contribute reporting on these topics to The Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and Teen Vogue. My reporting has also appeared at The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Al Jazeera America and PRI's "The World." A complete list of my publications and my full résumé are available online at https://joshuaeaton.net.

Although I am a freelance journalist, my position as a regular freelance correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and Teen Vogue — and my ongoing professional relationship with editors at a number of other outlets — ensures that any articles I write based on these documents will be published.

While a publication contract provides "the clearest evidence that publication is expected," DOJ regulations instruct components to "consider a requester's past publication record" in determining whether a freelance journalist has demonstrated “a solid basis for expecting publication through a news media entity." See C.F.R. § 16.11 (b)(6).

My position as a freelance correspondent with a number of news outlets, my professional relationship with a number of other outlets, and my publication history (available at https://joshuaeaton.net/portfolio) clearly demonstrate "a solid basis for expecting publication." Thus, I strongly believe DOJ should grant me requester status as a representative of the news media.

B. Appealing constructive denial

It has been 27 business days since my request was received by your agency. This period clearly exceeds the 20 days provided by the statute. I consider FBI's inaction a constructive denial of my request, and I appeal this adverse determination in its entirety.

As I have made this request in the capacity of a journalist and this information is of timely value, I would appreciate your expediting the consideration of my appeal in every way possible. In any case, I will expect to receive your decision within 20 business days, as required by the statute.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,
Joshua Eaton

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

06/24/2016 11:42 AM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2016-003781

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2016-003781 has been processed with the following final disposition: Completely reversed/remanded.

  • Eaton, Joshua, AP-2016-003781.FBI.remand.reconsider.fee.category.failu

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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