International News Service v. Associated Press Case Brief

Summary of International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918)

Facts: Plaintiff (AP) and Defendants (INS) are both involved in the news collection business. The collected news are distributed by the parties to newspapers around the county. Both plaintiff and defendant are in direct competition. The defendants were involved in collecting news posted by the plaintiffs on bulletin boards and newspapers and then reproducing these news as their own work.

Issue: Can the plaintiff exclude the defendant from copying news that the plaintiffs have already published?

Holding: Yes

Rationale: When considering whether plaintiffs have property rights in the news published, we need to consider plaintiffs rights vis-à-vis the defendant, and not vis-à-vis the public. The defendant is a competitor of the plaintiffs and it is using he plaintiffs news stories for its own profit. Plaintiff put in a lot of labor to produce these news stories and the defendant is trying to reap what it has not sown. Such practice is unfair and it also results in losses to the plaintiffs that can take away the incentive to produce such “hot" stories. Therefore, the defendants are not allowed to “steal" plaintiffs stories for a certain amount of time. This time should be set so that the defendant will not be able to enjoy the benefits of plaintiff’s labor.

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