Banks v. Manchester

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Banks v. Manchester
Submitted October 29, 1888
Decided November 19, 1888
Full case nameBanks v. Manchester
Citations128 U.S. 244 (more)
9 S. Ct. 36; 32 L. Ed. 425
States cannot confer copyrights on public domain case records to citizens or to states themselves.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Melville Fuller
Associate Justices
Samuel F. Miller · Stephen J. Field
Joseph P. Bradley · John M. Harlan
Stanley Matthews · Horace Gray
Samuel Blatchford · Lucius Q. C. Lamar II
Case opinion
MajorityBlatchford, joined by unanimous

Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244 (1888), was a United States Supreme Court ruling dealing with copyright. In 1882, to facilitate the printing of records of the Supreme Court of Ohio, the state of Ohio passed a resolution to establish a copyright held by the Supreme Court of Ohio's court reporter and advertised the sale of the exclusive publishing rights to a lowest-bidding publishing company for the period of two years. H. W. Derby & Company won the bidding war and assigned all their right and interest in the contract to Banks & Brothers. Banks then contracted the Capital Printing and Publishing Company to print the books.

Banks proceeded to print various reports, among which included Bierce et al. v. Bierce et al. and The Scioto Valley Railway Company v. McCoy. Although, for a time, exclusive to Banks's publications, G. L. Manchester published these cases in the American Law Journal, a periodical. Banks sought to stop Manchester from printing the cases. Manchester refused because judges had authored the decisions; therefore, he claimed that Banks did not have a copyright. Banks's position was that the state's copyright, held by the court reporter E. L. De Witt and licensed to them, afforded them the exclusivity.

The Court ruled that the State could not hold a copyright and affirmed its decision in Wheaton v. Peters[1] by stating "what a court or a judge thereof cannot confer on a reporter as the basis of a copyright in him, they cannot confer on any other person or on the state."[2]


  1. ^ Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 591 (1834).
  2. ^ Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244 (1888).

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