It has been brought to my attention that there is excellent precedent to refuse Diebold's claims in the "Tobacco papers" case, as described in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle
and in more depth in a profile of defendant Stanton Glantz
I'm still looking for more definitive legal reference, but here is the
"layman's" version of the relevant argument. Glantz received an anonymous
package of internal tobacco company documents and published them. Then, as described in the profile above:
When Brown & Williamson filed suit to force the return of the documents
in February 1995, the stage was set for a First Amendment fight.
Suddenly, the very freedom of a researcher and a university to
disseminate information was on the line. "Basically, they were trying to
keep books out of the library, and universities are here to spread
information, not suppress it," Glantz says. He was summoned to a meeting
at the university counsel's office, across Parnassus Avenue, which runs
through the UCSF campus. "I was riding the elevator down and I was
thinking, 'Time to walk the plank. They're going to toss me overboard.'"
But saying they'd rather fight than quit, the UC administrators backed
Glantz. The university lawyers argued that the documents were a
legitimate subject of study and that they were already public records
because they had been written about so extensively in the New York Times
and elsewhere. In June 1995, the California Supreme Court ruled in the
university's favor. To spare strain on the library, the university
published them on the Internet and sold copies on CD-ROM.
In the case of the Diebold memos, these documents have been extensively published on the web
(see citations at http://www.why-war.com/features/2003/10/diebold.html) and elsewhere, including a book and at least one
widely-syndicated AP article. More coverage will surely follow. I think the precedent holds.