Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co.

433 U.S. 562 (1977)


Zacchini (P) performed the stunt of the human cannonball where he was shot from a cannon into a net 200 feet away. This was done at the county fair; members of the public in attendance at the fair were not charged a separate fee to watch the stunt. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting (D) filmed and aired the fifteen-second stunt on the 11 o'clock news with a favorable commentary. P brought an action for appropriation, alleging that the act was invented by his father and performed only by his family for the last fifty years and that D showed and commercialized the film of his act without his consent. D moved for summary judgment, which was granted. P appealed. The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed, but its decision in turn was reversed by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.