Colorado newspaper theft law
Theft of free-distribution newspapers by those who object to the newspaper's content is a frequent problem for the college student media. Although newspaper thieves have been successfully prosecuted in many jurisdictions under existing theft laws, Colorado, like a handful of other states or local governments, has passed a law explicitly criminalizing the taking of free newspapers.
Colorado Rev. Stat. Sec. 18-4-419:
(1) A person commits the offense of newspaper theft when that person obtains or exerts unauthorized control over more than five copies of an edition of a newspaper from a newspaper distribution container owned or leased by the newspaper publisher with the intent to prevent other individuals from reading that edition of the newspaper. Control is unauthorized if there is a notice on the newspaper or on the newspaper distribution container that possession of more than five copies with intent to prevent other individuals from reading that edition of the newspaper is illegal.
(2) Newspaper theft is a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of:
(a) Up to one thousand dollars if the number of newspapers involved was one hundred or fewer or the number of newspapers involved was not determined;
(b) Up to two thousand five hundred dollars if the number of newspapers involved was more than one hundred and fewer than five hundred;
(c) Up to five thousand dollars if the number of newspapers involved was five hundred or more.
(3) As used in this section:
(a) "Edition of a newspaper" means a single press run of a newspaper.
(b) "Newspaper" means a periodical that includes news, editorials, opinion, features, or other matters of public interest that is distributed on a complimentary basis. Newspaper includes any student periodical distributed at any institution of higher education.
(c) "Periodical" means a publication produced on a regular interval.
(4) Notwithstanding any other remedies provided under this section, a newspaper publisher who is the victim of newspaper theft, an advertiser who placed an advertisement in a newspaper that was subject to newspaper theft, or a newspaper reader who regularly reads the newspaper subject to newspaper theft shall have a private civil right of action as provided in section 13-21-123, C.R.S., against the person or persons who acted in violation of subsection (1) of this section.
(5) This section shall not apply to a person who, with the authority or permission of the person who possesses real or personal property, removes or disposes of newspapers that have been deposited in or left on that property without the authority or permission of the person who possesses the real or personal property.