Buying Facts That Aren’t Copyrightable
“A relatively little-known fact outside of copyright practice is that movie studios regularly purchase the film and television rights to newspaper stories. Yes, newspaper stories, which by their nature, report on facts or ideas, two things the copyright law does not protect. So what are studios buying?
“One answer is that the rights aren’t expensive. Yet that’s still money. Why would anyone pay several thousand dollars something that doesn’t exist? Its like buying property in never-never land.
“The supplementary answer is that studios are preventing even a remote risk of a lawsuit brought by the newspaper.”
Lessig Blog. Why Do Studios Pay for Newspaper Movie Rights? May 4, 2006.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.