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Herbert v. Shanley Co.

242 U.S. 591 (1917)

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Herbert v. Shanley Co.

United States Supreme Court

242 U.S. 591 (1917)

Facts

Two similar cases were consolidated and came before the United States Supreme Court. In each case, owners of copyrights on musical compositions (the copyright owners) (plaintiffs) filed an infringement suit against a hotel and restaurant (the businesses) (defendants). The copyright owners alleged that the hotel and restaurant had infringed the copyright owners’ exclusive right to perform publicly for profit by having orchestras perform the musical compositions in the dining room of the hotel and in the restaurant in violation of the Copyright Act of 1909. The businesses did not charge any admission fees for entrance, but customers paid for their meals, to which the performances served as entertainment. In the case of the hotel, the district court held that the performances were performances for profit in violation of the act. However, the court of appeals reversed. In the case of the restaurant, the district court held that the performances did not violate the act, and the court of appeals affirmed. The copyright owners appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

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