Is it legitimate to pick it up and reprint in full under a picture byline, once it has appeared on the internet?
The Mail and the Australian had a jolly little spat in June about Mail online snippets that bore a striking resemblance to stories that had appeared in the Australian.
Is it more acceptable to lift copy if you give full credit?
SubScribe admits to having been dismayed to be at the end of a caustic tweet from Nick Cohen after running an extract of one of his rather good articles in the Columnists page of this site. It was supposed to be a compliment.
So it's an interesting sphere to examine.
A couple of weeks ago, this blog was surprised to find that both the Telegraph and the Mail carried first-person pieces from Jonathan Krohn, the first journalist on Mount Sinjar in Iraq, where the Yazidis were beseiged and dying of thirst after fleeing ISIS.
Krohn was freelancing, and is renowned as a wunderkind, but it takes some kind of superman to produce two completely different colour pieces about airdrops and rescue efforts for two papers on the same night.
A little research showed that he had filed the "Mail" piece to the Sunday Telegraph on Saturday and that it had been posted online in full. It was, however, cannibalised to form part of a portmanteau splash for the print edition. SubScribe thought this was a waste of a scoop - and the Mail apparently did, too. For there it was on page 7 the following day.
Krohn has now been in touch to say that he filed to the Telegraph, for whom he was contracted to write. He wasn't remotely dismayed that his story had been carved up. He was delighted to have the joint splash byline and to have got the exclusive. The treatment, he said, was the Telegraph's call. To an old sub, that came as an astonishingly refreshing attitude and for a moment lifted the gloom about the future of the trade.
Krohn added that he hadn't written for the Mail. Mobile and satellite signals were unreliable up on the mountain and when he got down on the Tuesday he discovered a number of emails in his inbox from the Mail, asking if it could.use his material.
By the time Krohn read them, someone in Kensington had taken the decision to go ahead anyway, and there was his original copy in all its glory, complete with picture byline and boast about "the first Western journalist to reach Mount Sinjar".
SubScribe assumes that a large cheque is in the post.