New York Times Busted for Violating Copyright Bill Keller Defended

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The Boston Phoenix has a long blog post out Wednesday calling out The New York Times for uploading work owned by the paper on the same day columnist Bill Keller advocated for stronger SOPA-like enforcement of copyright laws. In the post, Carly Carioli points to a column by Joe Nocera that mentions a 1976 article by Clark Booth called "Death and Football" that ran in a defunct publication called The Real Paper. In his column, Nocera directs readers to The New York Times' website where a PDF version of the article is posted with full layout and ads. (Save the date: Electric Light Orchestra is playing at the Orpheum March 19th: Tickers are a steal at $6.50!)

The problem? The Real Paper's rights have since been acquired by the Phoenix, prompting Carioli to take a critical look at Nocera's colleague's column about SOPA and Wikipedia. Looking at the piracy debate around SOPA, Keller writes, "Like most people who make their living the way I do, I think parasite Web sites should be treated with the same contempt as people who pick pockets or boost cars."

The Phoenix's Carioli notes that by hosting the Phoenix-owned PDF on, the paper sort of picked its pocket, suggesting (with tongue only partly in cheek, we assume) "We could ... call the lawyers. It's an open-and-shut case."

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He continues:

Keller would like you to believe, even though he thinks of the world as being populated by digital pickpockets, that a sane anti-piracy legislation will be enforced only against the largest and most egregious copyright offenders. It's as if he lives in some alternate universe where major labels haven't already sued individual downloaders and their parents for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. The onus isn't on the public to prove that copyright legislation won't be used against us: it's on legacy media protectorates to come up with solutions that don't punish their customers.

Actually, Keller's column doesn't lay out what kind of bill he's envisioning or how it would explicitly or implicitly protect all but the egregious offenders. But Carioli's point (he takes a long time to make it) is that the Phoenix taking issue with the Times' presentation of its copyrighted material doesn't help anyone, but that folks like Keller should think about how we can reform copyright rather than focusing on enforcement of so-called violations. It's an interesting debate with a real-life scenario backing it up.

The post originally referred to Carioli by the wrong gender. The Atlantic Wire regrets the error.

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