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Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co.

United States Supreme Court
433 U.S. 562 (1977)


Facts

A reporter for Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Company (defendant) attended a county fair and attempted to film Zacchini (plaintiff) performing a human cannonball act. Zacchini asked the reporter not to film the act. The following day, the reporter returned and filmed the act. Scripps-Howard broadcast a 15 second clip of Zacchini’s act on the local nightly news. Zacchini filed suit in state court seeking damages for appropriation of professional property. The state supreme court held that Zacchini had a right to control the publicity of his act, but also held that the media had a constitutional privilege to broadcast all or part of a newsworthy performance without compensation to the performer. The state court denied Zacchini’s claim for damages. Zacchini petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Powell, J.)

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