International News Service v. Associated Press

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

Pitney held that the information found in the AP news was not copyrightable as "the information respecting current events contained in the literary production is not the creation of a writer but is a report of matters that ordinarily are publici juris; it is the history of the day." Instead, Pitney approached the issue from the perspective of unfair competition. He found that there was a quasi-property right in the news as it is "stock in trade to be gathered at the cost of enterprise, organization, skill, labor and money, and to be distributed and sold to those who will pay money for it". Given the "economic value" of the news, a company can have limited proprietary interest in it against a competitor (but not the public) who would attempt to take advantage of the information.[2]

Pitney characterized INS's behavior as misappropriation. Due to the tenuous value of "hot" news, Pitney narrowed the period for which the proprietary right would apply: this doctrine "postpones participation by complainant's competitor in the processes of distribution and reproduction of news that it has not gathered, and only to the extent necessary to prevent that competitor from reaping the fruits of complainant's efforts and expenditure."[2]

Justice Brandeis took issue with the Court's creation of a new proprietary interest in "hot" news and said it was an issue best dealt with by the legislature. His opinion included the following:
“ The creation or recognition by courts of a new private right may work serious injury to the general public, unless the boundaries of the right are definitely established and wisely guarded. In order to reconcile the new private right with the public interest, it may be necessary to prescribe limitations and rules for its enjoyment; and also to provide administrative machinery for enforcing the rules. ”

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