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International News Service v. Associated Press

United States Supreme Court
248 U.S. 215 (1918)

International News Service v. Associated Press


Associated Press (AP) (plaintiff) is a news gathering service which serves 900 newspapers throughout the United States on an annual operating budget of $3,500,000. International News Service (INS) (defendant) is the chief competitor news service to AP. INS services 400 newspapers on a budget of $2,000,000. AP brought suit against INS seeking an injunction prohibiting INS from pirating AP’s news. Specifically, AP alleged INS was bribing its members to furnish AP news to INS so it could then publish the news to its own clients. Additionally, AP alleged INS induced its employees to ignore company by-laws and provide news to INS before publication. Finally, AP alleged INS copied news from bulletin boards and early editions of its newspapers, and then sold the news to its own customers. At trial, AP presented evidence that INS took news published by AP on its bulletin boards on the East Coast, and took advantage of the time difference, combined with telephonic and telegraphic technology, to sell the news as its own to its West Coast customers. The trial court granted a preliminary injunction to AP on its first and second allegations against INS. However, it refused to grant an injunction restraining INS’s practice of stealing news from AP’s bulletin boards and early editions. The appellate court sustained the injunction and extended it to include AP’s third allegation. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Pitney, J.)

Dissent (Brandeis, J.)

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