FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Court upholds broad FOIA fee exemption for media & groups

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

Court upholds broad FOIA fee exemption for media & groups

By Josh Gerstein, Politico, Aug. 25, 2015

Advocacy groups and non-traditional news outlets should have an easier time avoiding fees under the Freedom of Information Act under a decision issued Tuesday by a federal appeals court in Washington.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said the Federal Trade Commission and a district court had been too dismissive of fee waivers sought by a fledgling conservative group, Cause of Action, when it filed FOIA requests with the FTC.

D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland emphasized that web-based publishers are as entitled to waivers as newspapers, that outlets without a following by a broad swath of the general public can qualify for waivers and that organizations that pass analyzed government documents to media outlets can be classified as members of the news media under the federal public records law.

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