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Who Owns the News ? A History of Copyright

Stanford University Press, 2019, 368 p., £24.

You can’t copyright facts, but is news a category unto itself ? Without legal protection for the "ownership" of news, what incentive does a news organization have to invest in producing quality journalism that serves the public good ? This book explores the intertwined histories of journalism and copyright law in the United States and Great Britain, revealing how shifts in technology, government policy, and publishing strategy have shaped the media landscape. Publishers have long sought to treat news as exclusive to protect their investments against copying or "free riding." But over the centuries, arguments about the vital role of newspapers and the need for information to circulate have made it difficult to defend property rights in news. Beginning with the earliest printed news publications and ending with the Internet, Will Slauter traces these countervailing trends, offering a fresh perspective on debates about copyright and efforts to control the flow of news.

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