Brief Fact Summary. One news organization accuses another of appropriating news taken from bulletins and newspapers and using that information to make sales to clients.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Information contained in news is in the public domain and therefore cannot be subject to private ownership. But when a news organization makes a substantial expenditure in obtaining the news, they will be protected from having the information appropriated by a competitor.
Issue. Is there any property right in news? If there is property in news, does the right survive after the news is published in a paper? Does appropriating a rival news organization’s information amount to unfair trade competition?
As between the two news organizations, the news matter is quasi property because the parties seek to make profit from the information. But neither party has a property interest in the news as against the public because the news matter is not copyrighted.
When Defendant transmits news matter it got from Complainant after Complainant had published the information, they are taking material that has been acquired by the organization and the expenditure of labor, skill, and money. This material is salable by complainant for money, and Defendant is appropriating it and selling it as its own, thus endeavoring to reap where it has not sown. This is an unauthorized interference with the normal operation of complainant’s legitimate business. Defendant is attempting to divert a large portion of Complainant’s profit.
Publication of news is not abandonment of the news to the world. Publication is for the limited purpose of benefiting readers, not for making merchandise of the news.
Many exchangeable values may be destroyed intentionally without compensation.View Full Point of Law