Int'l News Serv. v. AP

248 U.S. 215, 39 S. Ct. 68 (1918)

 

RULE:

As between rival news-gathering and publishing agencies, news must be regarded as quasi property, irrespective of the rights of either as against the public.

FACTS:

Defendant engaged in the systematic practice of taking the bodies of news stories from bulletin boards and early editions of complainant's newspapers and selling them as its own. Complainant sued, seeking, among other things, to enjoin defendant from engaging in such activity. The trial court decided to withhold the injunction in anticipation of the appeal. The appellate court, however, issued the injunction and thus restrained defendant from taking or gainfully using any of complainant's news until its commercial value as news had passed away. On certiorari, the court affirmed.

ISSUE:

Could defendant be lawfully restrained from appropriating news taken from bulletins issued by complainant or any of its members, or from newspapers published by them, for the purpose of selling it?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Complainant's interest in the news it gathered was worthy of protection from interference by defendant, its competitor in business. Emphasizing the competitive relationship between the parties, the Supreme Court concluded that, although it involved misappropriation rather than misrepresentation, defendant's strategy amounted to unfair competition in business. Refusing to create a more specific injunction, the court affirmed the decree of the appellate court.

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