New Books in the Society of Fellows

Celebrating Recent Work by Will Slauter

Tuesday, March 12, 2019  6:15pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

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New Books in the Society of Fellows:
Celebrating Recent Work by Will Slauter

Who Owns the News: A History of Copyright
By: Will Slauter

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.

About the Author:

Will Slauter is an associate professor at Université Paris Diderot and a member of the Institut universitaire de France. His research interests include the history of authorship and publishing, the history of journalism, and the history of copyright law. After receiving a PhD from Princeton University, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University (2007-2009). He has also taught at Florida State University and Université Paris 8 – Saint Denis. His book Who Owns the News? A History of Copyright (Stanford University Press, 2019) was supported by fellowships from the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Antiquarian Society. 

About the Speakers:

Richard R. John is a historian who specializes in the history of business, technology, communications, and American political development.  He teaches and advises graduate students in Columbia’s Ph.D. program in communications, and is member of the core faculty of the Columbia history department, where he teaches courses on the history of capitalism and the history of communications.  His publications include many essays, eight edited books, and two monographs: Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (1995) and Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (2010). John has been a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D. C., and has served as a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. Among the institutions that have sponsored his research are the College of William and Mary, the American Antiquarian Society, and the National Endowment of the Humanities, which awarded him a faculty fellowship in 2008. Spreading the News received several national awards, including the Allan Nevins Prize from the Society of American Historians and the Herman E. Krooss Prize from the Business History Conference. Network Nation won the first Ralph Gomory Book Prize from the Business History Conference and was the 2010 Best Book in Journalism and Mass Communication History, an award bestowed by the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. John is a former president of the Business History Conference, an international professional society dedicated to the study of institutional history.

Kevin Lamb, a lawyer at WilmerHale, focuses on complex litigation matters. Mr. Lamb joined the firm following clerkships with the Honorable Guido Calabresi of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Janet C. Hall of the US District Court for the District of Connecticut. He previously worked as a summer associate at the firm. While attending Yale Law School, Mr. Lamb interned in the Office of Legal Policy at the US Department of Justice and served as a law clerk to the Honorable András Sajó of the European Court of Human Rights. Prior to pursuing his law degree, Mr. Lamb earned a PhD in English from Cornell University and served as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. 

Rachel Nolan will chair the discussion.

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