Hewitt, Martin (2017) The Law and the Press. In: Journalism and the Periodical Press in Nineteenth Century Britain. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. ISBN 978-1107085732

This chapter offers a broad survey of the relationships between the law and the press (primarily the newspaper press) during the nineteenth century. It traces the transition from early decades of vigorous state hostility of the first third of the century, through the gradual relaxation of fiscal and regulatory controls from the 1830s to the 1860s, to the brief period of completely unregulated press production in the 1870s. It examines the main legal engagements of the press in this period: the various forms of libel, political (seditious, blasphemous and obscene), civil and criminal, as well as copyright and contempt of court. In doing so it explores the limits of the ‘free press’ of British constitutional myth, and the complex and mutually constitutive relationship between the press and the law as interests.

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