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  • In 1963, Abraham Zapruder filmed the most sickening event in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy. He later sold the film to Time for $150,000. Later Time sold the film back to the Zapruder family for $1. For many years, the Federal Government claimed that they should be the rightful owners of the film. You have been assigned as the arbitrator for this case. How would you handle the negotiations of this delicate case? Do you think that the final outcome was fair? Explain why.


After  reading the links and viewing the clip on the Zapruder film, my role as  an arbitrator in this case is to be fair and impartial during hearings  while avoiding a delay in the disposition of proceedings all while  maintaining a degree of order. This will be a challenge given the  sensitive nature of the dispute. To date, the Zapruder film is the only  real-time evidence available which depicts President Kennedy’s final  moments on that November day. Working in downtown Dallas, Texas, I pass  by Dealey Plaza and markers showing the two shots that hit the president  on a daily basis. Given the angle from where the shots took place in  comparison to where the president was hit, conspiracy theorists argue  that the attack on the motorcade was complex, meaning there were  multiple shooters. Historians claim that there was only one shooter from  the 6th floor of Dealey Plaza. The differing theories justifies the  importance of the Zapruder film. 

In  negotiating this case as an arbitrator, I would ask both sides to  consider the ramifications if the film was not disclosed or made  available for the general public. Despite its graphic nature, disclosing  the video would afford careful, in-depth analysis from amateur and  expert viewers to confirm or deny the differing theories that exist  about the assassination. That said, I would further ask both sides to  set aside any monetary differences. My thought process coincides with  the NY Times article penned by Rosenbaum (1998) in that the family  desires to make the film widely available to combat, “…the burden of  having to decide who can have access to it and when and for how much”  (n.p.). 

In  short, I do think that the final outcome was fair considering that the  Zapruder family decided to donate the film’s copyright to the Sixth  Floor Museum in the Texas School Book Depository at Dealey Plaza. I also  think that the monetary amount received was fair as well. Although the  matter at hand is sensitive, the film was private property and the owner  was within his/their rights to sell it for an amount deemed suitable. I  think what if Zapruder had kept quiet about the film? Few people would  have known about its existence. I liken it to someone finding an  original Picasso painting or an original manuscript of the Declaration  of Independence. The finder has ownership of the item and can decide to  what offer to take in exchange for the item. In 1999, a three judge  arbitration panel determined that a fair price in exchange for the item  was the halfway point between what each side was asking for. 

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