By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Did you miss Wikipedia yesterday? And Reddit?

And all the other websites and blogs that went dark in protest of two bills now on deck in Washington that would force search engines to block public access to intellectual property pirates, web sites that illegally resell everything from toys to movies and music?

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Even before yesterday’s blackout, web world had barraged Washington with so many phone calls and e-mails, the White House and the Republicans in Congress were tripping over each other as they backed away from SOPA – the Stop Online Piracy Act – and PIPA, the Protect IP Act, the Senate version of SOPA.

(By the way, full disclosure, our parent corporation, CBS, is one of many major media companies that supports the legislation.)

And beyond all the usual finger-pointing and posturing, the truth is both sides make a good point.

The property theft that occurs when someone takes a product that doesn’t belong to them and sells it or gives it away on the web is the source of billions of dollars worth of economic damage.

But do YOU want big corporations to be empowered to dictate which web sites you can look at or even talk about online?

I wish I had a clever, realistic solution to offer that would satisfy both sides.

But I don’t.

Instead, the best I can do is to offer this completely unrealistic solution – that all people who think it’s just fine to take advantage of free or cheap deals on products they know quite well don’t belong to the seller should cozy up to a good book that includes a list of do’s and don’ts, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments.

Check out commandment number eight, right before thou shalt not bear false witness and right after thou shalt not commit adultery – thou shalt not steal.

If even a significant percentage of us who currently don’t pay attention to that rule started doing so when we’re online, we could minimize this problem to the point of irrelevance, and do so without any outside authority infringing on our freedoms.

OK, maybe a higher authority would be involved.

But – what on Earth is the problem with that?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (14)
  1. A Softeware Engineer says:

    The problem arises when the targeted individual or business is not even entitled to DUE PROCESS anymore.

    If I were to upload a video of myself doing a bad karaoke version of their favorite song to a Social Network, I could get 5 years in prison for that as a convicted felon, as if I had robbed a bank. Moreover, the Social Network I uploaded the video to could be “blacklisted”, removed from Google, and lose all ad revenue, and disappear from the Internet WITHOUT their day in court.

    SOPA wants to criminalize everyday internet behavior. Even worse, the Piracy sites it wants to target do not care and will keep doing “business as usual”, already coming up with new Tech savvy solutions to get around the Great American Firewall. Instead of punishing the bad guys, it will cripple the Tech Industry and set American innovation back 25 years. It’s exactly the type of legislation that’s wrong with this country: laws that hurt many and nonsensically criminalize everyday activity to help very few.

    1. The Owl says:

      By recording the artist’s song an posting it publicly, aren’t YOU denying the artist’s right to be paid for his work?

      The due-process sword cuts both ways…

      Just because you CAN do it is not an excuse for doing it when it impinges on the rights of other.

      The problem for you and other apologists for copyright infringement is that your everyday life involves illegal activity.

    2. The Owl says:

      Let me ask this question: Where does the excuse of “everybody does it” no longer apply?

      I think you can see the slippery slope that you are on, SE.

  2. tsalnew says:

    I have not done the reading necessary to totally understand what the legislation entails. I am inclined to feel that piracy is just that and should not be permitted. Having read the 9:06 post I see another side. It seems to be similar to Dodd-Frank type legislation where it goes to the extreme before it rolls back to the logical. It may be a necessary evil.

    As an aside, I didn’t miss Wiki yesterday because it was incredibly easy to figure out that all you had to do was hit the escape key as the page loaded to keep the blackout page from appearing. It was never really shut down.

  3. petem says:

    A well balanced post. At first is was concerned the tone was going one way but you pulled it back nicely at the end. You pointed to precisely the right concern many people rightly have now, and that is that large corporate machines have no interest in the free exercise of our rights or for that matter competition. They now seek to destroy anything or anyone that stands in the way of their making another gazillion $ for their ‘shareholders’…I mean executives…
    There used to be a concept known as ‘in the public interest’ or ‘for the good of the public’. That concept has been all but abandoned as corporate money has bought nearly every public official, with the idea that the corporate interest is ALL that matters.

  4. Stephen Stein says:

    Tweet of the day yesterday – “The Wikipedia blackout presents a horrifying picture of a world with no knowledge. So does the Fox News website, which is running normally” – @AndyDaglas

    1. tsalnew says:

      hahahahahaha – I’d go with tweet of the decade

  5. KathyD says:

    Wow, Jon, are you suggesting that people police themselves? Yeah, that’ll happen as soon as the Occupiers organize. What ever happened to them anyway?

    1. tsalnew says:

      The occupiers have been doing some good stuff to work with people in regard to the foreclosure mess – more than the politicians are doing. You are not hearing about them because their work is actually accomplishing something and the media will only report when it can create controversy. For that reason alone not a good idea to get information from the news media but to do some individual research.

      1. BostonIrish says:

        Really? The Occupados?? Impact??? Do tell. Not!

  6. tsalnew says:

    B – do some homework – you will see that despite the unreasonable wish of some that the average person not be helped, they are being. To name two – banks have ended foreclosure of a veteran and a church in GA and agreed to negotiate. And yes I do tell :)

  7. Tsalnew says:

    Bi not like you to not so your research. Owl and Petem. Great comments

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    Wonderful site. Lots of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks to your effort!

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