Past Event

Who Owns the News?: A History of Copyright

February 12, 2019
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
4, rue de Chevreuse, 75006 Paris

Please join us for a panel discussion and presentation of Prof. Will Slauter's book Who Owns the News?: A History of Copyright (Stanford University Press 2019).

With the participation of:

Will Slauter, historian, Université Paris Diderot
Julia Cagé, economist, Sciences Po Paris;
Jenny Davidson, literary scholar, Columbia University
Antoine Lilti, historian, École des hautes études en sciences sociales

About the book

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.


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 in 2007, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. 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. In collaboration with Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire of the Winterthur Museum, he is currently coordinating an international project on artistic copyright and the circulation of images in the nineteenth century.

Julia Cagé is an assistant professor of economics in the Department of Economics at Sciences Po Paris. She is also co-director of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies (LIEPP)'s "Evaluation of Democracy" research group & a Research Affiliate of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)
(Economic History, Industrial Organization, and Public Economics Programs).

Jenny Davidson is professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a fellow with the Institute for Ideas and Imagination. She receieved her A.B., Harvard-Radcliffe (1993); and Ph.D., Yale (1999). She writes about eighteenth-century literature and culture; other interests include British cultural and intellectual history and the contemporary novel in English. She is the author of four novels Heredity (2003),The Explosionist (2008), Invisible Things (2010), and The Magic Circle (2013). She has published two books about eighteenth-century literature, Hypocrisy and the Politics of Politeness: Manners and Morals from Locke to Austen (Cambridge, 2004) and Breeding: A Partial History of the Eighteenth Century (Columbia, 2009). Reading Style: A Life in Sentences was published in 2014 and her latest book of criticism is Reading Jane Austen. She is currently at work on a short book about how Edward Gibbon came to write The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Antoine Lilti est directeur d'études à l'EHESS depuis 2011 et responsable de la formation doctorale et du master d'histoire. Ancien élève de l'Ecole normale supérieure, agrégé et docteur en histoire, il a dirigé la revue Annales, Histoire sciences sociales de 2006 à 2011. Ses travaux portent sur les Lumières et leurs héritages, sur l'histoire sociale et culturelle du XVIIIe siècle, sur les formes de la réputation et de la célébrité dans les sociétés modernes et sur l'histoire de l'historiographie. Il a publié deux ouvrages : Le Monde des salons. Sociabilité et mondanité à Paris au XVIIIe siècle (Fayard, 2005, traduction anglaise Oxford University Press, 2014) et Figures publiques : l'Invention de la célébrité (Fayard, 2014). Il a coédité (avec Cécile Spector), Penser l’Europe au XVIIIe siècle : Commerce, Empire, Civilisation, Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2014, et (avec Sabina Loriga, Jean-Frédéric Schaub et Silvia Sebastiani), L'expérience historiographique : autour de Jacques Revel, Ediitions de l'EHESS, "Enquêtes", 2016.