Stop stealing from your fellow pagans!

One of the recent dust-ups which have come up the greater pagan community the last few weeks has been the issue of copyright. In this round the trouble has included people posting content which is not their own as if it were as well as Facebook groups with unauthorized pdf copies of books freely available for download. In case any of you may not be sure, these acts are not only unethical but illegal.

There are already plenty of posts online explaining the basics of copyright. My friend Jennett (a fellow librarian) has a post about copyright and pagans here and Fire Lyte has an excellent post here. Go read both of them after you finish here.

In my professional life, both copyright and ethics are interests. I’m a supporter of Creative Commons and other alternatives to current copyright because I think the laws have become draconian thanks to corporate influence. But it is still the law. For ethics, yes I do believe that information should be easily available, even freely available. And I also believe strongly that the people who CREATE the information, whether it be spell, book, poem, hymn, artwork, music, deserve fair compensation and credit for their work.

The purpose of copyright was originally meant to benefit the creator. To give them a period of time in which they had exclusive control of when/where/how the material was utilized. Yes this includes the choice to work with a publisher or agent to help disseminate their work. And after a certain period of time (current law: with written works copright extends to the life of the creator plus 70 years*) the work would fall into public domain and become freely accessible.

The other point is to give creators reason to continue creating. Contrary to some possible opinions, writing a book is not a spell which makes a boatload of money open up and shower upon them. Creation is work and they deserve compensation. Not some overly entitled, short-sighted people scanning in their works and just throwing it around like so much used tissue. I know a lot of authors who are Pagan, polytheist, or neither. They WORK. They write every day in order to be able to pay their bills, keep a roof and some food around, and perhaps maybe eke out more than a poverty level existence. You may not agree with what they make but you can make sure to give them the respect to earn a living.

Also, do you really think it’s wise to put up works illegally by people who have written material about how to properly curse and hex?

If you can’t afford books, fine. Go to the library. Borrow from your friends. Use a free ebook app and get legal material to read? (Hint: not only are there a lot of free books available regularly for the Kindle, but there are also those great public domain titles as well as academic institutions who have material freely available. Don’t believe me? Go look up the Oriental Institute and their publications.) And I will note this, if you can afford a smartphone and the monthly plan, I am sure you can find some room in your budget for a $15 text.

In short, stop stealing. Give credit where it is due. Ask permission. You are reading this on the internet right now. Most every author has some sort of Web presence. They might have material available or know where to get it below cost if it is really a matter of finances for you. Or search online for used copies. Which is, incidentally, acceptable under copyright. And if you messed up and did something stupid, admit to it. If you are hosting a web site or Facebook group filled with illegal pdfs, DELETE THEM. And don’t go whining when you get called out, or ban people right and left for pointing out the fact that you are breaking the law. Support your community.

We’re still a minority. We still have to fight for rights because of our religious and spiritual practices. Breaking the law does not do a thing to help us.

Now go back up to the top and read Jennet’s and Fire Lyte’s posts about copyright.

    Further copyright resources

The plagiarism explosion on the internet: how to protect your work
Free plagiarism content scanning tools
A tutorial for citing resources which is something you should recall from schooling
Copyright basics (the foundational resource librarians use when they have questions

*See what I mean about draconian?

Bibliography
Hoffman, Gregory McCord. The ethics of copyright: an informal chat. Texas Library Journal, Fall 2004. Accessed September 6 2013, from JSTOR.

12 thoughts on “Stop stealing from your fellow pagans!

  1. Pingback: Stop your stealing (Pagan Activist post) | Syncretic Mystic

  2. Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge

    Thank you for posting this since most of the bloggers i read DO give credit where they can, but some do not seem to try very hard. And the links are very helpful. I may reblog this also to shre it further. Thanks and BB. Lee

  3. Shauna Aura knight

    Thanks for posting this, Soli. As a (newly published) author, and as someone who travels and teaches, I’m happy to share my knowledge about things…but yes, I also do need to be compensated for my work. Being a published Pagan doesn’t somehow mean I have oodles of cash dumped in my lap. When people buy my books, whether the Pagan/leadership books or the romance/fantasy novels, they are helping me to be able to do the work I love and share the knowledge I’m happy to share in the Pagan community. Stealing books by posting them for free makes it so that I can’t do that. Publishing is changing–but, we still need to pay authors (and artists, and musicians) for the work they do.

  4. Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge

    Reblogged this on Blau Stern Schwarz Schlonge and commented:
    I found a link at The Wild Hunt the other day to this blog and advise on how pagan artists and writers can TRY to protect their own works and the works of others on the internet. Please click on All the links in the post and after it to learn some great techniques. i for one wish every artist and photographer would have the software to put a watermark of copyright on their works, not necessarily blocking out the whole image, but maybe at the bottom (though of course someone can always download then crop that off later). I and most bloggers i follow seems to try VERY HARD to give credit where credit is due. But over the years i have amassed files of images and do not remember where i got them from. One technique i learned here is if you kept the title the same your can put the image on your desktop then drag it over to a Google image search and often find the artist. But if you changed the title that does not work so well. And being able to reblog on WP works great but reblogging a Blogger site to WP all you can do it paste a link, not the whole text, though i will sometimes put in a short quote in parenthesis and italics as a teaser. I am also of the practice to ask permission to do that, and even ask people if i can reblog their post and give them a few days to respond yes or no and if they say no then i just delete the reblogged post. So like this article says, please lets respect the copyrights of others. The one place on the www where i see the most abuse is on Tumblr or Flickr picture sites where pics are sucked off and posted with no source at all.

  5. Pingback: Stop stealing from your fellow pagans! | Fanny Fae

  6. K.M.H

    Reblogged this on Stumbling Through Faith and commented:
    I teaching and deal with plagiarism from my students quite a bit… but I absolutely CANNOT STAND IT when I see someone “writing” an “original piece,” and I think to myself, “That doesn’t sound like something they would normally write…”

    Tracing back to the source is as easy as copying and pasting lines through Google, and BAM: caught. Seriously, how hard is it to give credit to the people who actually worked really hard for that blog or website or book?

    Plagiarism doesn’t just make the guilty person look bad, but it also makes everyone else in the community look bad too.

  7. Soli Post author

    Anna, I am familiar with the classism going on. That was starting around the time when I wrote this post. I do see my statement as different since offerings to Gods can be negotiated. Makers have physical bills to pay as much as anyone. Also, I have yet to see someone claim that they are using illegal downloads because they can’t afford to buy the books. Perhaps there are and the people are just quiet. What I have seen of people hosting and downloading these illegal files is a level of entitlement and not understanding that they are participating in theft from another member of their (larger) community.

  8. satanicviews

    It is a double-edged sword really. I have photography, designs, trademarks, logos and patents protected which costs me many thousands of $, which is an immediate massive cost to me, so it pains me to discover any of it being stolen. I need to pay the bills.

    The other side is that copyright kills the potential of ideas spreading that might benefit humanity. The Christian Bible for instance has no copyright, which allows it to spread without barriers across all of humanity. The same goes for most of the narrative of ancestors such as the King Arthur Mythos, ideas that spread across culture allowing the many to use it in their own unique way. Copyright will give the individual monetary value, but it live and die with them, and will rarely become a legacy used by humanity, because it could not be spread. Nature works in the opposite way to humanity, where it loves to spread its genetic code and seeds across the entire universe if it could.

  9. Soli Post author

    SV, fair use is still fair game for copyrighted works. There are limits to fair use, and like I said, I think the length of copyright is awful and meant to benefit big companies like Disney (who were influential on getting it to pass). Under the copyright laws in place when Mickey Mouse was first create, he would have become a public domain character a long time ago.

  10. Anna B.

    I do not feel like saying it concerning piracy is any different than saying the phrase concerning anything else. It is still a classist remark to assume that someone who has [x] item (which is very much a necessity in our society today) can therefore obviously pay for [y] thing, because [x] item (despite being an absolute necessity) is seen culturally as a mark of assumed status and finances. And I say this as both someone who is an Artist and fully understands the ramifications of theft of creative works, and as someone who lived the majority of their life in poverty until just a couple years ago. What i meant to say is that you shouldn’t assume that someone with a smartphone is- by default of having it- has money. Not just concerning the problem of theft an piracy (I fully agree with you here)… But in general.

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