Sometimes, you may want to acquire documents or other tangible property in order to develop a story or confirm the accuracy of facts learned from a source. This could include anything from a photograph to a computer hard drive to internal documents belonging to a company or government body. The following sections address some of the legal issues you could face in acquiring documents and other property:
- Elements of Conversion: You should be aware that you generally are not permitted to take or even borrow other people's property without their permission. If you intentionally remove someone's property from their possession or deprive them of the use of that property for a substantial amount of time, you could be held liable for what is known as conversion.
- Receiving Documents and Information from Government Sources: If you receive classified documents or other information relating to national security from a government source, you may subject yourself to criminal liability under a complex array of federal espionage-related laws.
- Practical Tips for Acquiring Documents and Other Property: Check here for some practical tips for minimizing your risk of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution when acquiring documents and other property for newsgathering purposes.