Who Owns the News?
A History of Copyright
Will Slauter



NEWS IS INTRACTABLE. It has always been difficult to define and nearly impossible to control. For centuries, publishers have sought ways to make news exclusive. Some have even claimed it was a form of property. But such attempts have repeatedly encountered resistance on political and cultural grounds.

In 1733, a London paper called the Grub-Street Journal was accused of “piracy.” The offense? Each week’s issue contained a digest of news compiled from eight to ten other London papers. The editor would read these papers looking for different accounts of the same event and then reproduce short excerpts one after the other, always indicating the source. The Grub-Street Journal was a satirical paper, and its news digest poked fun at contemporary politicians and news writers. But it also had a serious purpose. By juxtaposing different versions of the same story, the Journal exposed the errors and contradictions that filled the press. (See figures 1 and 2.) When accused of unfair dealing, the Journal’s editor defended himself on the grounds of public utility. He wrote, “Our method of comparing the articles of one paper with those of another is not only not piratical, but extremely useful, and even necessary to put a stop to the currency of false news.”1

Almost three hundred years later, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, a new kind of news aggregation—this time powered by computer algorithms that pulled articles from across the web—threatened a newspaper industry in crisis. Publishers and press agencies complained about internet aggregators and media-monitoring services that reproduced headlines and short snippets of news without permission.2 Some initiated lawsuits in order to negotiate licensing deals with technology firms such as Google and Yahoo; others lobbied for legislative changes that would better protect news organizations against unauthorized use of their content.3 Much had changed since the eighteenth century. New technologies, new business strategies, and new cultural practices had transformed how news was disseminated. Professional journalism, which had not existed in the days of the Grub-Street Journal, was in crisis as newspapers drastically reduced staff or closed entirely.4 The context was different, and the political stakes were higher, but websites accused of theft or free riding could have done worse than to echo the Grub-Street Journal’s claim that juxtaposing short extracts of news was useful to the public. Yet in a world in which it was possible to copy and retransmit texts instantly, how would news organizations recoup their investments in reporting the news?

FIGURE 1. The Grub-Street Journal reproduced short phrases from several newspapers one after the other, revealing humorous contradictions in the reporting of a single event (August 8, 1734). Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

FIGURE 2. An example of how the editor aggregated sentences from three named sources (the Daily Journal, Daily Post, and Post Boy) to provide readers with a more complete account (September 9, 1731). Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 2 Yale University.

Of course, copyright law has changed significantly in the last three hundred years. In the 1730s, the statute in Great Britain explicitly protected books but did not mention newspapers, journals, or magazines. The editor of the Grub-Street Journal suggested that some newspaper material, such as original poems and essays, should be treated as literary property, but he thought that news was different. He wrote that “no man can assume to himself a Property by employing persons to collect a heap of trivial, ridiculous, and false paragraphs of news, and then publishing them daily to the world.”5 By the mid-nineteenth century, major changes in the business of news led newspaper publishers and agencies in Great Britain and the United States to begin to think of news in more proprietary terms. In both countries, special legislation to protect news for a short period of time was proposed on different occasions in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Proponents argued that collecting and distributing news was expensive and that copyright would provide the necessary incentive to furnish the public with timely access to quality journalism. Critics objected that copyright was inappropriate for news. While some claimed that news lacked the qualities associated with literary authorship, others worried that copyright could restrict the flow of information of public concern.

By the early twentieth century, copyright was available for newspapers—the twists and turns that led to this development will be explored in the chapters that follow—but the idea of exclusive rights in the factual details of news remained controversial. Thanks in part to legal disputes over news, courts had begun to distinguish between facts and expressions, insisting that only the latter could be protected by copyright. During World War I, this limitation led the Associated Press (AP) to turn away from copyright in hopes of finding another means of protecting the factual details of news. In a case that the AP brought against one of its competitors, the US Supreme Court in 1918 ruled that news should be regarded as “quasi property.” Although the AP could not restrict how members of the public used news after it was published, the organization had a right to stop competitors from copying or rewriting AP news for as long as it had commercial value.6 This ruling gave rise to the misappropriation doctrine, also known as the “hot news” doctrine, which has been invoked in lawsuits against websites that republished news and stock recommendations online. Despite dramatic changes in the technology, economics, and culture of news since 1918, the hot news doctrine has even figured in policy discussions about how to protect journalism in the digital age.7

In the chapters that follow, the historical developments that I just outlined will be given the context they need to be properly understood. But even taken out of context, these examples reveal that debates about copying—how copying affects the ability of news organizations to function and how copying affects public access to news—are not new. The consequences of treating news as a kind of property have been discussed numerous times in the past. But such debates tend to fizzle out and be forgotten the next time the issue comes up—hence the need for a historical approach. The purpose of this book is to understand the recurring struggle to balance the interests of rival publishers and the public good in relation to long-term shifts in publishing and the law.


This book covers developments in Great Britain and the United States.8 Examining related issues in other countries would no doubt reveal how different policy decisions and publishing strategies led to different outcomes in those places.9 The choice to focus on Britain and the United States was motivated by the fact that when it comes to copyright law, these countries share a common heritage that differs from the authors’ rights tradition that developed in continental Europe.10 In some respects, the history of journalism in Britain and America is also linked.11 And yet the timing and rationale of attempts to establish legal protection for news differed in the two countries. These differences reveal that new communications technologies—from the electric telegraph to the internet—cannot by themselves explain when and why people have lobbied for new legislation or gone to court to stop others from copying. News publishers have always worked within a larger political economy determined by government regulations, industry practices, and institutional arrangements, such as partnerships and joint ventures.12 The different policy decisions and business strategies that developed in Britain and America help to explain why certain kinds of copying came to be seen as problematic at distinct moments in time.

Complaints about piracy (more on this term shortly) and discussions about whether news can be the subject of some kind of property right go back much further than the introduction of the telegraph in the mid-nineteenth century. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, printers and booksellers who dealt in news already struggled with how to reach readers faster than their competitors and how to prevent the sorts of copying that would undermine their investments. This book therefore begins with a chapter on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a period when the publication of news was regulated through a combination of censorship and royal privileges. This combination made it possible to have exclusive rights over news, but it also restricted the sorts of news that could be published. The breakdown of press licensing at the end of the seventeenth century and the creation of the first copyright statutes in the eighteenth century were important changes in public policy that had profound effects on the publication of news. Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, new attitudes toward authorship and convictions about the benefits of allowing information to circulate made the idea of legally enforced monopolies on news seem less and less defensible. Yet changes in the business of news also made certain kinds of exclusivity desirable for publishers, press associations, and agencies. In many ways, we still live with this tension today.


Admittedly, there are many ways to answer the question of who owns the news. This book is not primarily concerned with who controls the assets of major news outlets (who owns the media?) or the growing power that advertisers and technology firms have over the kinds of information available to the public. These questions are certainly important, and they rightly receive attention from scholars and journalists.13 The focus here, though, is on attempts to control news by treating it as a form of intangible property. At the heart of the story is the evolving relationship between news publishing and copyright law, but it is important to note at the outset that copyright is not the only weapon in the battle over who owns the news. As the following chapters will show, writers, editors, and publishers have adopted a range of strategies to exert control over the news they collected or produced. They have requested and sometimes obtained state-sanctioned monopolies, formed cartels that turned potential “pirates” into partners, changed their times of publication to reduce the chance of being copied, set traps—such as deliberately publishing false news—to catch “thieves,” and used the press to publicly embarrass those who did not play by the rules they sought to impose.

These and other strategies, including recourse to copyright law, could be seen as responses to a problem inherent to news as a commercial product. News is what economists call a nonrivalrous good. Unlike food or fuel, one person’s consumption of news does not reduce the quantity available for others. Even if all the copies of a newspaper are sold, more can be printed, and at an extremely low marginal cost. Fixed costs for the production of news are high because they include salaries, travel expenses, equipment, and other overhead. Marginal costs—the cost of printing another copy of a newspaper, for example—have always been low, and now they approach zero. Publishers of news have tended to charge for access to it, thereby trying to exclude those who do not pay. But news has never been totally excludable. Long before networked computers made it possible to instantly copy and transmit words, photographs, and videos, people were able to share news by talking about it, transcribing it into letters, or passing around newspapers. And in the absence of some law or agreement to the contrary, it has always been possible to republish news collected or produced by a competitor. For these reasons, news resembles what is known as a public good. In economic terms, public goods are nonrivalrous and nonexcludable. They cannot be depleted, and they can be enjoyed by people who do not pay. Public goods are often seen as providing benefits to the community as a whole, not just to the individuals who would choose to pay for them. Indeed, they often have to be subsidized because individuals will not pay enough to cover their costs. Street lighting and fire departments are good examples: local taxpayers contribute to their upkeep, but anybody visiting the town can benefit from them. News is more complicated; it is nonrivalrous but also partly excludable. Publishers can restrict access by placing articles behind a paywall, but some subscribers will share them with nonsubscribers, and the details of the news will quickly be relayed in multiple ways.14

Copyright law can be viewed as a mechanism for dealing with the public-goods problem as it affects not just news publications but all sorts of literary, artistic, and scientific works. By granting certain exclusive rights (especially the sole right to produce and sell copies of the work), the state creates boundaries where none naturally exist, thereby providing authors and publishers with an incentive to create new works.15 But the fact that published news is nonrivalrous and can be reproduced at zero marginal cost does not mean that the problem of piracy is a universal and unchanging one. Historical context matters. The kinds of activities denounced as piracy and the strategies used to combat them have varied by time and place. The arguments for and against treating news as a species of property have also developed over time. Understanding this history means grappling with several terms—starting with property—that have been central to discussions of rights in news but have meant different things to different people. The other words that constitute moving targets in our story are piracy, copyright, and news itself. For all of these terms, it is important to pay attention to how people have used them in different contexts and the goals that they have sought to accomplish.


Property has long been the single most important metaphor underpinning legal rights to writings and other works of the mind.16 In the case of land, property has often been understood as a set of rights enjoyed by the owner, including the right to use and dispose of the land (such as by selling it) and the right to exclude others from the land. A corollary of the right to exclude is the right to license others to use the land and to set the terms of their use. When applied to writings, property might entail the right to exclude others from performing some actions but not others. For example, in eighteenth-century Britain, the copyright statute gave authors and their assignees the sole right to print, import, and sell copies of their books, but it did not allow them to prevent others from making translations, abridgments, and other adaptations. Over time, the duration of the copyright term has expanded, but so has the list of exclusive rights enjoyed by the individuals or corporations that the law recognizes as the copyright owners.17

But copyright law is not the only basis on which authors and publishers have made property claims. In various contexts, they have developed trade customs or referred to the common law in an effort to secure rights that were not recognized by the copyright statutes. The notion of a property right resulting from one’s labor, formulated most famously by John Locke at the end of the seventeenth century, was seized and elaborated on by those who sought to defend a property right based on the mental labor of authors.18 As we shall see, publishers of news in a variety of formats developed variations of this argument, stressing the need to protect (another persistent metaphor) the labor and investment that went into collecting and distributing news, regardless of whether such a property right was actually recognized by the law.

The property metaphor was apparent in many of the terms that authors and publishers used to denounce violations of their supposed rights, including invasion and trespass (by analogy to property in land), theft and robbery (property in moveable goods), and piracy (a ship’s cargo).19 Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, as Adrian Johns has shown, the word piracy was used by printers and booksellers to denounce various activities that transgressed the shared norms of their community. The appeal of the metaphor depended not only on the idea of theft but also on the image of seagoing pirates as outlaws who threatened the social and political order.20 The term piracy has in fact been used to refer to a range of practices, not all of which were illegal at the time. For most of the nineteenth century, for example, American law did not recognize copyright for authors who were not citizens or residents of the United States. It was therefore perfectly legal for American publishers to issue reprints of British novels without permission. But from the perspective of British authors and publishers, unauthorized editions were unfair and immoral. They were piracies.21 Interestingly, American publishers who issued these reprints also developed their own customs, known as courtesies of the trade, to avoid ruinous competition with each other. They created rules to determine who had the exclusive rights over individual novels and even the future works of a particular British author. Publishers who violated these customary rights by printing a book claimed by someone else were denounced as pirates, even though according to American law the work was in the public domain.22

The example of transatlantic reprinting shows that what counted as piracy depended not only on the geography of copyright jurisdictions but also on publishing strategies and evolving notions of right and wrong.23 Similar factors were at play in the realm of news. The word piracy was more or less common depending on the period, and it was used to refer to a range of unwelcome actions, from the appropriation or imitation of a title to verbatim copying and paraphrasing of individual articles. In most cases, the practices being denounced were not explicitly prohibited by law, but they seemed unjust or dishonorable to those making the accusation. In the case of news, attitudes toward copying—whether it was seen as harmful, innocuous, or even beneficial—generally depended on who was copying, how soon they were doing it, whether they cited the source, and where they were located in relation to one’s own customers. Much depended on the frequency of publication and the geographic territory in which publishers sought their customers. For example, a daily newspaper might not have minded being copied by a weekly journal, since it had already profited from being first to announce the news. But a morning paper might have objected to copying by evening papers in the same city. Meanwhile, a paper in one city might have accepted being copied by papers in another city if properly credited as the source of the news, unless, of course, they were in direct competition for readers and advertisers. These spatial and temporal boundaries were always somewhat elastic, and they were stretched in various ways as a result of new forms of publication (such as evening papers and magazines), new modes of business organization (especially press associations and agencies), and new means of transporting newspapers or relaying individual stories (the railroad, telegraph, radio, and the internet). News publications have always been situated in time and space in relation to other publications and to communications technology providers, from the post office and telegraph companies to social media platforms. Whether copying is perceived as harmful depends on these relationships.


Like property and piracy, copyright is a term whose meaning has depended on the context and the goals of the person using it. One reason for this is that the purpose and scope of copyright have often been subject to debate. Another reason is that writers, publishers, and readers do not always understand copyright in the same terms as do lawyers or judges. The premise of this book is that the history of copyright should be a history of how copyright was understood and used by individuals in the past. My approach is inspired by interdisciplinary scholarship that has stressed how individual authors and publishers navigated questions of copyright as well as studies of “copyright pioneers” who campaigned for new laws or went to court in an attempt to obtain recognition of new rights.24 I reconstruct the history of legislation and case law related to copyright for news publications, but I also insist on the need to study legal developments in relation to changes in publishing practice. In that respect, my book is indebted to several generations of scholarship in the field known as history of the book. Historians and literary scholars working in this field have revealed that it is impossible to understand the early history of copyright without studying the organizational structure of the book trade. They have also shown that printers and publishers often ignored copyright or developed trade customs to regulate their businesses.25 But most histories of publishing that discuss copyright focus on books, and news publications followed a different trajectory. Copyright law was designed for books, and the different formats in which news was published and the different business models developed around news challenged existing frameworks in many ways.

As I attempt to weave together the history of law and the history of publishing practice, I accept that the relationship between the two is not always clear. Sometimes a statute or court ruling led to changes in the way news publishers operated; other times, shifts in publishing inspired discussions of the law or attempts to change it. Many times, however, it is impossible to identify a relationship. But by considering law and publishing practice together, I hope to provide a clear explanation of developments while acknowledging the ambiguity and uncertainty that shaped how individuals understood and made use of copyright. Copyright registration records, an underutilized resource, are studied alongside court cases, other archival evidence, and the news publications themselves to determine when and where individuals have sought out copyright protection, with what motivations, and to what effect. Attempts to assert copyright or other kinds of property rights in news were sometimes driven by the will of an individual or group to establish a new legal principle; in other cases, they reflected the desire to stop a particular rival. Sometimes the arguments used to justify exclusive rights had a close relationship to the practices of publishers or press agencies; other times, there was a gap between rhetoric and reality. That does not make it any less important, however, to study the rhetoric.


Efforts to protect news by legal means have been repeatedly hindered by the difficulty of defining news. What is it we are trying to protect, against whom, and for how long?26 Even for industry insiders, the definition of news has often seemed elusive. Prompted by an inquiry from the trade journal Editor & Publisher in 1932, a number of figures in the New York newspaper world volunteered their definitions of news. But none seemed satisfactory to the person making the inquiry or to the respondents themselves. Julian S. Mason of the New York Evening Post highlighted the subjective experience of individuals, suggesting that “news is something which you can hardly bear to wait to tell somebody else.” Frank M. O’Brien of the Sun said that to qualify for news, something had to be not previously published and within the bounds of what was considered suitable for a newspaper. Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times proposed that “what’s new is news,” but he considered this definition imperfect. Kent Cooper, general manager of the AP, supposedly boasted, “The Associated Press report is my definition of the word news.”27

Historians and sociologists have suggested that news is culturally constructed: news is not what happened but stories about what happened, and these stories are shaped by professional norms and literary conventions as well as the tastes of the public and the concerns of advertisers.28 Although the history of journalism has usually been written in a national framework, a strand of recent scholarship has highlighted the transnational circulation of news. Stressing the importance of exchanges and networks, these studies have suggested that news is as much about the process by which people learn of events as it is about the content. In fact, the two cannot be easily separated.29 Journalism scholars have sometimes distinguished between events occurring in the world, sources of information about those events, and the news that is produced from these sources. But in many instances the distinctions become blurred and it is difficult to tell the difference between the event, the source, the information, and the news.30

The difficulty defining news became apparent whenever people attempted to claim exclusive rights over it. Many of the disputes covered in this book centered on the struggle to protect breaking news, usually in the form of short, factual accounts of what happened. In these cases, publishers and press agencies struggled to define the news as something distinct from the occurrence. It may seem obvious that there is a difference between the fact that something occurred and a verbal or visual representation of it, but attempts to obtain exclusive rights over news often encountered the objection that nobody could own the news. It was often unclear what each side meant by the news; it was difficult to distinguish between the expression and the fact.

Rather than imposing a definition of news, I accept that news has always been difficult to define, and in the course of the book I highlight how disputes over ownership rights have often led to new definitions. For example, in response to efforts to pass a special copyright law for news in the United States in 1884, opponents circulated a petition arguing that news was not eligible for copyright because it was not the product of “creative and inventive talent.” The petition asked, “What is news?” It answered that news was “the statement of facts, the history of current events. Can anyone create or invent a fact or event? If he cannot create or invent a fact or event, how can he copyright it?”31 The active resistance to the 1884 legislation, which is further explored in chapter 6, provides an example of how attempts to protect news led writers, judges, politicians, and others to advance arguments about the purpose and acceptable boundaries of copyright. Another example of this process can be found in an American court case from 1828 involving the unauthorized republication of market news. In this case, which is fully analyzed in chapter 4, the attempt to use copyright to protect commercial and financial information led the judge to articulate a principle that would be followed for decades to come: copyright was meant to promote works that made a lasting contribution to learning.32 Disputes over news also helped to shape legal doctrine with respect to the scope of copyright protection. One of the earliest court rulings to distinguish between protected expressions and unprotected facts was an 1892 case in Britain involving the copying of news paragraphs. And a 1900 dispute over whether newspaper accounts of public speeches could be protected created an important precedent by emphasizing the reporter’s labor and skill as the basis for copyright, thereby setting a low threshold for originality in British copyright law.33 These and other cases explored in this book show how studying the sometimes tense relationship between news and copyright law sheds light on the history of both. Copyright might have developed differently without the legislative proposals, debates, and court cases involving news. Meanwhile, efforts to use the law to protect news led to debates about what news was and how best to promote public access to it.

With these goals in mind, the following chapters are organized roughly in chronological order, but they do not all share the same emphasis. Some offer a narrative of change over a relatively long period (chapters 1, 2, 5, and 6), whereas others focus on a more restricted era to explore the attitudes and practices of newspaper editors (chapter 3) or analyze a single court case and its significance (chapters 4 and 7). Three of the chapters focus on Britain and four on the United States; the epilogue considers recent developments and ongoing issues in both countries. Since this is an overview covering more than four hundred years, I necessarily made choices about what to highlight. Readers familiar with journalism history may be struck by the absence of certain personalities or events that usually feature in accounts of the development of journalism. Those who are well versed in copyright law might note that the focus on news decenters certain legislative or judicial developments in favor of others. But it is hoped that the choices made here provide a new way of thinking about the history of news publishing and the history of copyright by studying them together.


1. Grub-Street Journal (London), 5 Apr. 1733. See chapter 2.

2. See Richard Pérez-Peña, “AP Seeks to Rein in Sites Using Its Content,” New York Times, 6 Apr. 2009,; Mercedes Bunz, “Rupert Murdoch: ‘There’s No Such Thing as a Free News Story,’The Guardian, 1 Dec. 2009,; Arianna Huffington, “Journalism 2009: Desperate Metaphors, Desperate Revenue Models, and the Desperate Need for Better Journalism,” Huffington Post, 18 Mar. 2010, updated 25 May 2011,

3. See Robert Denicola, “News on the Internet,” Fordham Intellectual Property Media & Entertainment Law Journal 23 (2013): 68–131; and Pam Spaulding and Michelangelo Signorile, “Copyright Shakedown: The Rise and Fall of Righthaven,” in Media Authorship, ed. Cynthia Chris and David A. Gerstner (New York: Routledge, 2013), 37–55. A study of legal interventions in several countries was undertaken by Lionel Bently, Richard Danbury, and Ian Hargreaves for the AHRC-funded project titled “Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of News in a Digital Environment” (2014–2016),

4. See Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again (New York: Nation Books, 2011); Ian Hargreaves, Journalism: A Very Short Introduction, 2nd ed. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014).

5. Grub-Street Journal, 3 Jan. 1734.

6. International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918). See chapter 7.

7. For the recent court cases, see chapter 7. A proposal to codify the misappropriation doctrine was included in “Federal Trade Commission Staff Discussion Draft: Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism” (2009),

8. Referring to Britain instead of England has the advantage of brevity but remains problematic given that most of the developments discussed here took place in England. It also glosses over important political changes. In 1707, the Act of Union combined England and Scotland into Great Britain. In 1801, Great Britain and Ireland were combined to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. After the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the name became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

9. For a comparative history of policy, see Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications (New York: Basic Books, 2004). The international dimensions of copyright for news merit more study, but some good work has been done on Reuters and the AP in an international context. See Michael D. Birnhack, Colonial Copyright: Intellectual Property in Mandate Palestine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 212–38; Jonathan Silberstein-Loeb, The International Distribution of News: The Associated Press, Press Association, and Reuters, 18481947 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Heidi J. S. Tworek, “Protecting News before the Internet,” in MN, 196–222; Sara Bannerman, International Copyright and Access to Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 80–98; and Gene Allen, “Catching Up with the Competition: The International Expansion of Associated Press, 1920–1945,” Journalism Studies 17, no. 6 (2016): 747–62.

10. See Peter Baldwin, The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014). Such differences should not be exaggerated, however.

11. For a recent analysis, with references to studies that posit a distinct Anglo-American tradition, see John Maxwell Hamilton and Heidi J. S. Tworek, “The Natural History of the News: An Epigenetic Study,” Journalism 18, no. 4 (April 2017): 391–407. For a summary of research on cross-influences, see Bob Nicholson, “Transatlantic Connections,” in The Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century British Periodicals and Newspapers, ed. Andrew King, Alexis Easley, and John Morton (London: Routledge, 2016), 221–33.

12. See MN.

13. Several books with variations on the title Who Owns the Media? have explored the problem of media concentration. On the history of press commercialization, see Gerald J. Baldasty, The Commercialization of News in the Nineteenth Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992); James Curran and Jean Seaton, Power without Responsibility: The Press and Broadcasting in Britain, 7th ed. (London: Routledge, 2009); and John Nerone, The Media and Public Life: A History (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2015).

14. The economic concepts are clearly presented in James T. Hamilton, All the News That’s Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information into News (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 7–10; and Gerben Bakker, “How They Made News Pay: News Traders’ Quest for Crisis-Resistant Business Models” (Economic History Working Papers 206/2014, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2014),

15. For an overview of the law-and-economics approach, see Anne Barron, “Copyright Infringement, ‘Free-Riding’ and the Lifeworld,” in Copyright and Piracy: An Interdisciplinary Critique, ed. Lionel Bently, Jennifer Davis, and Jane C. Ginsburg (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 93–127.

16. William St. Clair, “Metaphors of Intellectual Property,” in Privilege and Property: Essays on the History of Copyright, ed. Ronan Deazley, Martin Kretschmer, and Lionel Bently (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2010), 369–95.

17. See the essays in Helena R. Howe and Jonathan Griffiths, eds., Concepts of Property in Intellectual Property Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

18. The discussion of property is in chapter 5 of Locke’s Second Treatise, first published in 1690. See Mark Rose, Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).

19. St. Clair, “Metaphors,” 391–93.

20. Adrian Johns, Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 23–24, 35–48.

21. See Meredith L. McGill, American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 18341853 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003); and Catherine Seville, “Nineteenth-Century Anglo-US Copyright Relations: The Language of Piracy versus the Moral High Ground,” in Bently, Davis, and Ginsburg, Copyright and Piracy, 19–43.

22. Robert Spoo, Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

23. On the importance of geography, see Johns, Piracy, 13–14, 41–56.

24. Michael Birnhack, “Copyright Pioneers,” WIPO Journal 5, no. 1 (2013): 118–26. See also Melissa J. Homestead, American Women Authors and Literary Property, 18221869 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); and Mark Rose, Authors in Court: Scenes from the Theater of Copyright (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016).

25. The literature is vast and will be cited throughout. For a survey, see Meredith L. McGill, “Copyright and Intellectual Property: The State of the Discipline,” Book History 16 (2013): 387–427.

26. This point also emerged from a study of German publishers’ efforts to protect news in the age of radio and, more recently, online. Heidi J. S. Tworek and Christopher Buschow, “Changing the Rules of the Game: Strategic Institutionalization and Legacy Companies’ Resistance to New Media,” International Journal of Communication 10 (2016): 2119–39.

27. These definitions are quoted in James W. Brown to A. H. Sulzberger, 11 Mar. 1932, box 96, folder 28, New York Times Company Records, Adolph S. Ochs Papers, NYPL. The same folder contains further correspondence related to the definition of news.

28. See Robert Darnton, “Writing News and Telling Stories,” Daedalus 104, no. 2 (Spring 1975): 175–94; Michael Schudson, The Power of News (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995); and Howard Tumber, ed., News: A Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

29. See Joad Raymond and Noah Moxham, eds., News Networks in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2016). Computational studies of news circulation are also becoming more transnational. An example of an ongoing project is “Oceanic Exchanges: Tracing Global Information Networks in Historical Newspaper Repositories, 1840–1914,”

30. Terhi Rantanen, When News Was New (Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), 2–3, 75.

31. “The News Copyright Bill,” file S48A-H14, RG 46, Sen. Cmte. Library, NARA.

32. Clayton v. Stone, 5 F. Cas. 999 (C.C.S.D.N.Y 1829). See chapter 4.

33. Walter v. Steinkopff [1892] 3 Ch. 489; Walter v. Lane [1900] AC 539. See chapter 5.