BUCK V. GALLAGHER, 307 U. S. 95 (1939)

307 U. S. 95

U.S. Supreme Court

Buck v. Gallagher, 307 U.S. 95 (1939)

Buck v. Gallagher

No. 329

Argued January 10, 1939

Decided April 17, 1939

307 U.S. 95


1. In a suit to restrain the enforcement of a statute prohibiting or regulating a business, the matter in controversy is the right to carry on the business free from the prohibition or regulation. P. 307 U. S. 100.

2. The burden of showing jurisdictional value in controversy is on the plaintiff. P. 307 U. S. 102.

The value of the right to be free in one's business from a statutory regulation may be shown by proving the additional cost of complying with the regulation. P. 307 U. S. 103.

3. Owners of the copyrights of musical compositions, with a view to protection against unlicensed public performances for profit for which they received no compensation, granted to an unincorporated association, of which they were the members, the exclusive right of public performance for a term of years. It was the function of the society to protect itself and its members from piracies and to license public performances by others for royalties which, after certain deductions, it distributed among its members, pursuant to its clubjuris

Page 307 U. S. 96

articles of association. In a suit by the society and some of its members representing all, seeking to enjoin on constitutional grounds the enforcement of a statute of Washington which purports to regulate licensing by combinations of copyright owners, the bill alleged generally that the value of the matter in controversy exceeded $3,000, and also that the cost of complying with a provision of the statute requiring copyright owners to file yearly a list of their copyrighted works would involve costs to the society, or to each of the members individually if they acted in the matter without the society, of specified amounts each in excess of the jurisdictional value.


(1) The allegations show that the members have a common and undivided interest in the right to license in association through the society free of the provisions of the state statute. P. 307 U. S. 103.

(2) Upon a motion to dismiss for want of jurisdictional amount, which denied the allegations of the bill and challenged their sufficiency in that regard, the District Court erred in dismissing the bill without allowing plaintiffs the opportunity to produce evidence of the cost of complying with the statute and of the value of property rights affected by it. P. 307 U. S. 103.

24 F.Supp. 541 reversed.

Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges which dismissed, for want of jurisdiction, a bill to enjoin the enforcement of a statute of the Washington affecting the right of the owners of copyrights to combine in licensing performances of their musical compositions. clubjuris

Page 307 U. S. 97