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Connie Schultz's copyright fix

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:26 PM

The Plain Dealer's best-known columnist, Connie Schultz, has launched an effort to save America's declining newspaper industry with a new copyright law. 

Schultz's proposal (in a column you can read here) is that for the first 24 hours after publication, a newspaper will have the exclusive use to an article on its own Web site. News 

aggregators such as Daily Beast or Newser would not be able to post summaries of the stories, or would have to share advertising revenue with the originating publication. (Schultz has since clarified that the proposal would not apply to Google News, which posts headlines and then links back to the original article.)

Her idea has come under heavy criticism from some of the blogs, for example from Jeff Jarvis and Tim Russo. Schultz fired back last Sunday.

Schultz's proposal is well-intentioned, but it seems problematic on First Amendment grounds. 

I understand copyright protections. I'm clear on why I shouldn't be allowed to print up copies of her books without permission and sell them, or post her columns without permission to the Sandusky Register's Web site.

But should a law legally block me from summarizing her proposal in a blog post,  so that I can praise it or criticize it? Wouldn't such a law fail on First Amendment grounds?

I'll also note that the newspaper industry has been declining literally for decades, long before the Internet. When I was in journalism school, Oklahoma has five daily newspapers in its two big cities, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Those five became two, one for each city, by the late 1980s or so.

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