Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co.

499 U.S. 340 (1991)

The first-ever phone "book" was just a single sheet containing only 50 entries, and stated that the system was out of service from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM.

Even though this case made it clear that the information compiled in phone directories are not copyrightable, even as of 2004 many phone books such as this one still contained copyright notices (the same phonebook no longer contains a copyright notice today). Neither Feist nor Rural Telephone continue to exist, with Feist disappearing and RuralTel merging into Nex-Tech.

The very first telephone book was published in 1878 by the New Haven District Telephone Company. It didn't contain any numbers, as the operators would connect any calls. In 1886, Reuben Donnelly published the first version of the Yellow Pages, and the company he founded existed all the way until 2010, when it was re-founded as DEX One, which merged with SuperMedia to become DEX Media.

While most people merely discard or recycle their old phone books, some people actually collect them while others use them to create art. The Library of Congress also keeps old phone books, both foreign and domestic.