Information Wants to Be Free

Translation/Interpretation/Caption Text: 

Curator's note:

This review of the Berman Amendment details the legal battle that arose out of Liberation Graphics' attempt to import Palestine solidarity posters from Cuba into the US

The case was brought by the ACLU on behalf of Liberation Graphics which in the court's documents is referred to as: Walsh


B. Traditional Media Case Law

1. Walsh: The Scope of the Prohibition on “Indirect” Regulation

The earliest cases to scrutinize the effects of the Informational Amendments on access to media arose shortly after Congress enacted the Berman Amendment. In 1989, the District Court for the District of Columbia considered Daniel Walsh’s complaint against OFAC for having denied him a license to travel to Cuba in order to negotiate for, purchase, and arrange the importation of political posters from Cuba into the United States. Although the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACRs) generally prohibited Americans from traveling to Cuba, they authorized OFAC to issue discretionary licenses for travel related to the “[e]xportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials.”

Walsh argued that because traveling to Cuba was critical to his ability to import posters from that country, OFAC’s denial of a travel license constituted an impermissible indirect regulation on the importation of informational materials under the Berman Amendment. Whereas Walsh argued that the Berman Amendment broadly prohibited the President from indirectly regulating informational materials, OFAC narrowly interpreted the amendment to mean that only “transactions directly incident to the physical importation or exportation of informational materials” were immune from regulation and argued that travel restrictions did not fall in that category of transactions.