corporate speech


Case: Central Hudson

Case citation: Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980).


The Public Service Commission of New York ordered utility companies to stop advertising in the winter of 1973 as a result of a shortage of fuel supplies. The rationale was that such advertising would increase energy consumption. Long after the crisis had ebbed, the commission still had the ban in effect. When the commission refused to lift the ban on promotional advertising of utilities, Central Hudson Gas sued. A state court upheld the ban, and later the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision. Central Hudson appealed to the Supreme Court.

Decision: Reversed 

Test - The Central Hudson Test: 

This test evaluates what qualifies as fair use of someone else's copyrighted work.

  1. The ad/commercial message must be of a legal product and be free of misleading claims.
  2. The state must establish that is has substantial interest to control the commercial message.
  3. The state must establish that the regulation furthers that stated interest.
  4. The state must apply the narrowest means to curtail the commercial communication.

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