Bill Keller Fights Back Against His Copyright Critic

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A few days after we highlighted a spat between a Boston Phoenix writer and The New York Times columnist Bill Keller, Keller is fighting back with a new blog post.

On Wednesday, Carly Carioli wrote a long item criticizing The Times for uploading an otherwise digitally unavailable alt-weekly piece from the 70s as part of a Joe Nocera column, that might be in violation of copyright. Cariolli's main point was that on the same day Nocera pointed to the Phoenix-owned content, Keller wrote a column about protecting content creators with better enforcement. Carioli's final point: Keller should focus on reforming copyright laws, not strengthening enforcement of them lets The Times run into trouble under increased enforcement. In his response, Keller has little patience for the argument or the apparent irony of the upload's alleged copyright violation. He writes, in part:

In my column and blog post I disparaged some of the recent attempts to expand copyright enforcement, and said reforms of the law should be focused on genuine pirates ...

... I think this episode fails both the so-what test and the definition of irony.

By the way, when the Boston Phoenix objected, The Times took down the PDF, triumphantly depriving Clark Booth [author of the old alt-weekly piece] of the chance to be read by a lot of current readers. I hope the Phoenix will do its writer the favor of posting it somewhere. Joe Nocera was right.

It seems that if Keller and Cariolli could stop fighting, they would realize that they pretty much agree that copyright law needs a second look.

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