Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



This review of Will Slauter’s Who Owns the News? (2019) highlights three ways in which its history of copyright in news tracks and illustrates key themes in the history of cultural policy. One is how copyright law and journalistic style co-evolved, confirming the attributes of modern journalism itself and deploying style as a device for defining the scope of news producers’ legitimate copyright claims. In the news, as elsewhere in copyright, exclusivity and genre largely co-created each other. Two is how the labor and skill of individual human producers of knowledge are often hidden amid prominent debates about relationships between the circulation of knowledge and financial investments in systems of knowledge production. Reporters and photographers, as modern human creators of the news, are often missing from this history. Three is how the history of copyright in news is told largely with reference to organization of producers, distributors, readers, and users in collective settings. Copyright and cultural policy often develop and are best understood in terms of the roles of formal and informal groups.