International News Service v. Associated Press

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International News Service (∆) v. Associated Press (∏), Supreme Court of the US, 1918 Is there proprietary interest in news? If so, does the interest continue after publication in the 1 st newspaper? Does it constitute an unfair competition in Issue
trade to republish such news?

It’s impractical to copyright due to volume. (a) Have to distinguish content from process of collection. i. The format/style of a news story is copyrighted because it has literary quality. ii. The raw news is not copyrighted – it does not belong to the writer, it is the history of the day. iii. Constitution did not intend to confer a property right on the 1 st publisher. Unfair competition in business. i. Because AP used its own $, skill, loabor, and enterprise to make a profit out of the news, it has a quasi-property in the news against INS. (b) Flawed logi: This applies the property test against the public and not against a competitor. i. By making this argument, INS admits it is “reaping where it has not sown.” This all amounts to unauthorized interference with the normal operation of AP’s legitimate business precisely where the profit is to be reaped. This is a question of equity. (c) It is fraud: INS is substituting misappropriation in the place of misrepresentation and selling AP’s goods as its own.

News is not copyrighted – it is not within the copyright act.

INS and AP are competitors in the news gathering and selling business. Through bribery, copying from bulletin boards, and access to early editions of papers, INS got access to AP’s news stories and published them as its own.

Unfair competition in business:  When the rights or privileges of the one  are liable to conclude with those of the other,  each party is under a duty to conduct its own business  as not unnecessarily or unfairly to injure that of the other. A quasi-property interest exists in news.

Held Procedure P argues D argues

Affirmed. While refusing to grant a preliminary injunction on the taking of the stories from early editions and bulletin boards, it found that the practice amounted to “unfair trade.” The court of appeals sustained the injunction. INS’s conduct violated property rights and constitutes unfair competition in business. (a) Even if APs’ news is copyright-able, the copyright can only be maintained by keeping it secret. (b) AP looses its right to control the use of the news after it posts it to bulletin boards and publishes in news papers – it becomes common possession after it reaches the light of day – the purchaser of a newspaper has the right to communicate it to anyone. (c) No unfair competition because we’re not selling AP’s “goods” as ours.

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