Is “Hot News” the Next Landgrab?

I’ve read here and there about threatened law suits over the so-called hot news right. This is the idea that those who invest in the gathering, production and distribution of news can claim some rights to exclude reference to the facts they cover. I hadn’t really considered it related to the expansion of intellectual monopoly rights, a trend I’ve been following for some time.

That is until reading James Boyle’s discussion of the idea. He does a far better job of explaining what hot news is, its history, and how it is propped up by a vague definition under common law and more recently a couple of important judicial decisions.

What strikes me most about his article is not how it resonates with the drivers behind similar, more entrenched expansion of rights. It clearly does and he pulls out the strands of why that is so, revolving around how disruptive innovation often spurs claims of new rights from incumbents. Rather it is the idea that in seeing the parallel we have an opportunity to observe the repetition of a known phenomenon from very close to its start. The implication is that we might be able to find better compromises based on what we know now, possibly through better informed rhetoric against the Internet Threat and other bugbears raised by radical changes in technology.

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