December 06, 2004

Solving Newspaper Theft?

I was going through yet another article about how conservative student papers are being stolen as an act of ideological suppression when it hit me. The problem of these papers is one of pricing.

If you were able to differentially price each copy, say free for students who want to read it, $0.25 for those who grab it to use it as packing material or bird cage liner (without first reading it), and $10 for those who take it in bulk to not let others read it, you would cease to have a newspaper theft problem, especially one where the administration lets culprits go with a minor slap on the wrist. Bulk theft of newspapers without payment would be elevated to felony.

Who would speak out against charging thieves? What could administration authorities do to continue to protect thieves with which they are in sympathy or afraid of? If they act to protect such thieves, they end up liable themselves for suppressing evidence and facilitating theft, in court themselves and highly embarrassed.

A small, fine print contract printed in the newspapers themselves would change how newspaper theft is dealt with on US campuses. With state courts as a recourse, who would decide to be the test case?

Posted by TMLutas at December 6, 2004 08:37 AM