International News Service v. Associated Press

248 U.S. 215 (1918)


The parties are competitors in the gathering and distribution of the news and its publication for profit in newspapers throughout the U.S. Associated Press (P) was engaged in the business of gathering and disseminating news to its constituent members. The total cost of P’s service amounts to about $3,500,000 per annum. Its individual members shared in that cost. Each member agreed by the bylaws of P that news received through the service was received exclusively for publication in a newspaper and that no other use would be made of the information in advance of the publication. Each member was also required to gather news in his district and supply it to P and no one else. International (D) is in the same business as P, and they were competitors. It is obvious from the facts that the information gathered had time sensitive value and that there would be an enormous competitive advantage to get the story published first. Associated Press (P) sued International (D) for bribing the employees of its member news organizations for news information, for inducing P's members to violate its bylaws and permit D to obtain news before publication, and by copying news from bulletin boards and from early editions of P's newspapers and selling this either in whole or after rewrite to D's members. The issue before the court was whether D can be restrained from appropriating news taken from bulletins issued by P or any of its members, or from newspapers published by them for the purpose of selling it to D's clients. P got a preliminary injunction against D. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.