International News Service v. Associated Press

International News Service V. Associated Press


International News Service v. Associated Press

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International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918), is a United States Supreme Court decision that upheld the common law rule that there is no copyright in facts and developed the common law doctrine of misappropriation through the tort of unfair competition. In the case, the court struggled to distinguish between interference with business practices versus interference with intellectual property rights.


Two competing United States news services were in the business of reporting in the US on World War I. Their business hinged on getting fast and accurate reports published. Following unfavorable reporting on British losses by William Randolph Hearst's INS, that news service was barred from using Allied telegraph lines to report news, effectively shutting down their war reporting.

To continue publishing news about the war, International News Service gained access to Associated Press news through bribery, news bulletin boards and early editions of newspapers. INS members would rewrite the news and publish it as their own, without attribution. Although INS newspapers had to wait for AP to post news before going to press, INS newspapers in the west had no such disadvantage relative to their AP counterparts. The AP brought an action seeking to enjoin INS from copying news.


The Court held in favor of the AP, with Justice Mahlon Pitney's writing for the majority. A vigorous dissent was given by...
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