Richard Posner is catching flak for his suggestion that copyright law be expanded to cover paraphrase in order to save journalism from fierce digital competition. Thing is, that’s arguably the current state of the law. There’s a little known “hot news” doctrine that dates from the early 20th century and gives news agencies a very brief quasi-property right in their original reporting. The idea was to deter free riding on the significant investment wire services made in news gathering—free riding that didn’t require literal copying. Follow the link above and you’ll see that the Associated Press has been expressing interest in reviving this idea and pursuing “hot news” actions more aggressively. I don’t think this is a good or workable idea, but technically that’s where we already are. The odd thing is that Posner, who surely knows this, didn’t make any mention of the hot news doctrine.
Hot News and the War on Paraphrase
July 1st, 2009 · 2 Comments