Corliss v. E.W. Walker Co., 3,152.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
Citation57 F. 434
Docket Number3,152.
PartiesCORLISS et al. v. E. W. WALKER CO. et al.
Decision Date01 August 1893

Henry Marsh, Jr., and James M. Ripley, for complainants.

Henry W. Fales, for defendants.

COLT Circuit Judge.

This suit is brought by the widow and children of George H Corliss to enjoin the defendants from publishing and selling a biographical sketch of Mr. Corliss, and from printing and selling his picture in connection therewith. The bill does not allege that the publication contains anything scandalous libelous, or false, or that it affects any right of property but the relief prayed for is put upon the novel ground that such publication is an injury to the feelings of the plaintiffs, and against their express prohibition.

The counsel for plaintiffs, in argument, put the case upon the ground that Mr. Corliss was a private character, and that the publication of his life is an invasion of the right of privacy, which a court of equity should protect. In the first place, I cannot assent to the proposition that Mr. Corliss was a private character. He held himself out to the public as an inventor, and his reputation became world-wide. He was a public man, in the same sense as authors or artists are public men. It would be a remarkable exception to the liberty of the press if the lives of great inventors could not be given to the public without their own consent while living, or the approval of their family when dead. But whether Mr. Corliss is to be regarded as a private or public character (a distinction often difficult to define) is not important in this case. Freedom of speech and of the press is secured by the constitution of the United States and the constitutions of most of the states. This constitutional privilege implies a right to freely utter and publish whatever the citizen may please, and to be protected from any responsibility for so doing, except so far as such publication, by reason of its blasphemy, obscenity, or scandalous character, may be a public offense, or, by its falsehood and malice, may injuriously affect the standing, reputation, or pecuniary interests of individuals. Cooley, Const. Lim. (6th Ed.) 518. In other words, under our laws, one can speak and publish what he desires, provided he commits no offense against public morals or private reputation. Schuyler v. Curtis, 15 N. Y. Supp. 787, recently decided by the New York supreme court, and upon which the plaintiffs rely, is not in point. In that case the court enjoined the defendants from erecting a statue of Mrs. Schuyler. The right of publication was not in issue in that case.

There is another objection which meets us at the threshold of this case. The...

To continue reading

Request your trial
15 cases
  • Ignat v. Yum! Brands, Inc.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 18 Marzo 2013
    ...v. Rugg (1890) 44 Minn. 28, 46 N.W. 141; Douglas v. Stokes (1912) 149 Ky. 506, 149 S.W. 849; Corliss v. E.W. Walker Co. (C.C.D.Mass.1893) 57 F. 434, 436; see also The Right to Privacy, supra, 4 Harv. L.Rev. at pp. 208–209.) 7. Before Gill , some appellate courts had recognized the right to ......
  • Voss v. Gray
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 2 Mayo 1941
    ...... 254 F. 113; Lumiere v. Robertson-Cole Distribution Co. 280 F. 550, 24 A.L.R. 1317; Corliss v. Walker Co. 57 F. 434, 31 L.R.A. 283; Levyeau v. Clements, 175 Mass. 376, 50 L.R.A. 397; ......
  • Sidis v. FR Pub. Corporation, 400.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • 22 Julio 1940
    ...the questionable and indefinable status of a "public figure." See Restatement, Torts, § 867, comments c and d; Corliss v. E. W. Walker Co., C.C.Mass., 57 F. 434, 31 L.R.A. 283; Id., C.C., 64 F. 280, 31 L.R. A. 283; Jeffries v. New York Evening Journal Pub. Co., 67 Misc. 570, 124 N.Y.S. 780;......
  • Voss v. Gray
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • 2 Mayo 1941
    ...contract without the latter's consent. See, Moore v. Rugg, 44 Minn. 28, 46 N.W. 141, 9 L.R.A. 58, 20 Am.St.Rep. 539;Corliss et al. v. Walker Co. et al., C.C., 57 F. 434 and 64 F. 280, 31 L.R.A. 283; Pollard v. Photographic Company, L.R. 40 Ch.Div. 345; Melville v. Mirror of Life Company, 2 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT