Plagiarism, Copyright Infringement and Piracy

There seems to be this mistaken idea floating about the Pagan community that the written word is “free”. Literally almost every two weeks somebody on Facebook posts another warning and call to action regarding theft of intellectual property. Part of this may be because plagiarism and piracy is so common in our sacred literature. Gardner ripped off Crowley and Leland, and today people pass along rituals, poetry and texts without regard for it’s origin or author. While I don’t think it’s merely a Pagan problem (I’m certain Sunday school teachers and choir leaders may face the same issues) I do think it’s a problem that we treat things of spiritual worth as if they have no mundane value.

This morning I saw once again people warning against DarkBooks.org, where you can download occult and Pagan books for “free” with a “donation”. Though site owner Christina Debes claims “on my site you can download and order on CD only PUBLIC DOMAIN versions of books“, she also lists as available for download Pagan Christianity, a book by Christian authors calling from the removal of Pagan practices from the church. The Amazon listing for the book allows you to look inside and read the copyright notice, as anyone scanning the book into a downloadable format would have also seen. Despite this being a newer book with a clear copyright this book is listed as available for a “free” download with “donation”. On the page where the book is listed as available for “free” download and records 17 recent downloads we are assured by Ms. Debes: I am very attentive to the issue of copyright and try to avoid any violations, but on the other hand to help all fans of magic to get access to information.

While Ms. Debes’ site is what currently has Pagan authors up in arms, it’s certainly not the first and won’t be the last. Not so long ago a Facebook group began posting the work of well-known Pagan authors as their own work until community pressure was brought to bear. Just a few months ago a non-Pagan print magazine folded after receiving heat for plagiarism and theft. Being free with other people’s work has become an epidemic. Pagan musicians are losing hard-earned revenue to piracy. Pagan artists spend far too much time dealing with theft of their work by “free clip art” sites. Pagan publishers and authors who work hard to midwife new books into being are exasperated by how quickly their hard work is undermined by people posting illegal downloads.

I won’t claim to be a saint. I was quite a pirate back in the day. It took awhile before I realized that it wasn’t Metallica I was hurting but artists I truly love. Pagan authors, artists and musicians aren’t wealthy from their creative work. They generally have regular jobs like everyone else. They spend their “time-off” working on their craft as well as their Craft, and generally make very little from it. In the case of musicians and visual artists, they don’t simply invest their time but also their resources. Pencils and microphones don’t pay for themselves. This isn’t to diminish the time they spend. If anyone could pick up a guitar and sound like Damh the Bard, Chris Bingham, SJ Tucker or Celia then we wouldn’t value their music so much. If we could draw like Jessica Galbreth or carve like Paul Borda, we wouldn’t be such fans of their work.

One author and tradition has taken a unique approach to the problem of theft. For a long time I couldn’t comprehend why Andrew D Chumbley and Daniel A. Shulke, of the Cultus Sabbati, charge so much for their high-quality limited edition books. Right now a used copy of The Azoetia will run you a cool $1,299 on Amazon and a new copy of Ars Philtron is currently $250. Surely an author wants their work read widely? Maybe not. Cultus Sabbati books are certainly widely available for illegal download. Their work is sold initially through their website and they restrict who is allowed to purchase their books from them, which is why the supply and demand on Amazon has reached such heights. Just as old grimoires and Books of Shadows are full of blinds so that theft is easily detected by the thief’s lack of comprehension and oral “keys”, so I’m sure the Cultus Sabbati books are the same way. I wouldn’t be surprised if they expect their students to prove they are in possession of physical books before considering teaching them their Craft.

Of course, the Cultus Sabbati model cannot work for Scarlet Imprint or Neos Alexandria. For one, the capital required to begin such an endeavor must be significant and the product must be suitably obscure. Not every Pagan author, artist or musician can control their creative output with such an iron grip and hope to thrive. What we can learn from Cultus Sabbati is that Pagan intellectual property demands respect, and a large part of that respect is paying the artist the price they name. Wiccan laws forbid haggling over anything sacred and I’m trying to take that deadly seriously in my life now. If I value the product of an artist then I need to show the artist respect, by valuing the worth of their time, resources, materials and creativity. I especially need their consent to obtain and use their materials. I hope you agree.

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  • Mary Newman

    When it comes to just about any artistic endeavor, it seems people just have no concept of the amount of time and talent invested in the work. I have come across this with my own art time and time again – after pouring my heart and soul into a project having someone walk by and say “I could do that for way less money”. It crushes the spirit to hear it.
    Your article is a good one and people really need to heed the warning. “If you can’t treat other’s work as important how can you expect them to treat yours any better.”

  • Mary Newman

    When it comes to just about any artistic endeavor, it seems people just have no concept of the amount of time and talent invested in the work. I have come across this with my own art time and time again – after pouring my heart and soul into a project having someone walk by and say “I could do that for way less money”. It crushes the spirit to hear it.
    Your article is a good one and people really need to heed the warning. “If you can’t treat other’s work as important how can you expect them to treat yours any better.”

  • Kayeberry2

    I had that happen with a lady here in Peoria, Illinois. She came to a lot of my classes and received copyrighted material. A year later she is coping and giving the lessons away for free in another group. I stopped giving away class material since then. My question: who really gets hurt in this type of situation?

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    The students who think they’re getting her teachings, not yours second-hand. Doesn’t everyone know the story of Doreen Valiente? How angry she was when she found that Gardner hadn’t been truthful with her? Doesn’t diminish the tradition she received but it did cause pain for her and tarnished reputations.

  • Kayeberry2

    KARMA WILL TAKE CARE OF HER..

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    What if the person who stole the intellectual property’s incarnated in order to be a bad example/for others to put justice into action because of their actions? Then wouldn’t they ‘earn good karma’ by stealing, and ‘earn bad karma’ if they refrained from stealing?

    What kind of karma do you think that the asura Mahishasura earned by being demonic, leading to Durga killing him? Did Durga earn ‘bad karma’ by killing him?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    Actually, the story as Valiente tells it in _Rebirth of Witchcraft_ is that she recognized the Crowley material in the liturgy Gardner gave her immediately, at which point he backtracked and said that he had had to supplement a fragmentary core of witchcraft material with material from other sources. Valiente thought Crowley’s bad reputation would hurt the witch cult if his influence was known, so Gardner agreed to let her rewrite large portions of the BoS, as well as new material, which Gardner then included in the 1954 _Witchcraft Today_ as “traditional.” Valiente initially was involved in the misrepresentation of some of these texts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    …although Valiente did write in 1997 that the Charge was never intended for publication, interestingly. You can read that letter in the Museum of Witchcraft archives; it’s letter #529. (I am not quoting it directly due to their policies.)

    http://www.museumofwitchcraft.com/archive/simplesearch_archive.php

  • Kayeberry2

    I had that happen with a lady here in Peoria, Illinois. She came to a lot of my classes and received copyrighted material. A year later she is coping and giving the lessons away for free in another group. I stopped giving away class material since then. My question: who really gets hurt in this type of situation?

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    The students who think they’re getting her teachings, not yours second-hand. Doesn’t everyone know the story of Doreen Valiente? How angry she was when she found that Gardner hadn’t been truthful with her? Doesn’t diminish the tradition she received but it did cause pain for her and tarnished reputations.

  • Kayeberry2

    KARMA WILL TAKE CARE OF HER..

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    What if the person who stole the intellectual property’s incarnated in order to be a bad example/for others to put justice into action because of their actions? Then wouldn’t they ‘earn good karma’ by stealing, and ‘earn bad karma’ if they refrained from stealing?

    What kind of karma do you think that the asura Mahishasura earned by being demonic, leading to Durga killing him? Did Durga earn ‘bad karma’ by killing him?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    Actually, the story as Valiente tells it in _Rebirth of Witchcraft_ is that she recognized the Crowley material in the liturgy Gardner gave her immediately, at which point he backtracked and said that he had had to supplement a fragmentary core of witchcraft material with material from other sources. Valiente thought Crowley’s bad reputation would hurt the witch cult if his influence was known, so Gardner agreed to let her rewrite large portions of the BoS, as well as new material, which Gardner then included in the 1954 _Witchcraft Today_ as “traditional.” Valiente initially was involved in the misrepresentation of some of these texts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    …although Valiente did write in 1997 that the Charge was never intended for publication, interestingly. You can read that letter in the Museum of Witchcraft archives; it’s letter #529. (I am not quoting it directly due to their policies.)

    http://www.museumofwitchcraft.com/archive/simplesearch_archive.php

  • Sara A.

    This, I am sad to say, underlies some of the turmoil that has gone on in my own tradition for years. How much more awful it is when it’s not a stranger ripping off your work, but a supposed brother or sister. I could not agree with you more.

  • Sara A.

    This, I am sad to say, underlies some of the turmoil that has gone on in my own tradition for years. How much more awful it is when it’s not a stranger ripping off your work, but a supposed brother or sister. I could not agree with you more.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Actually, technology might become part of the solution. Sell things as e-books that the people have to register for in order for the file to open. Have it only be able to be opened on one computer. Have only one copy be printable. In the middle of each page, have a message that if they are getting this copy in some other way, it is theft. And that a half-trained servitor is in charge of policing thefts, as well as US civil and criminal courts.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    I know someone how has her store enchanted to hex shoplifters and bless paying customers. Not a bad idea for books, perhaps?

    Tech might be part of the solution, but in my experience geeks will and can hack anything.

  • Kayeberry2

    I actually saw a “return book spell somewhere, lol”

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Actually, technology might become part of the solution. Sell things as e-books that the people have to register for in order for the file to open. Have it only be able to be opened on one computer. Have only one copy be printable. In the middle of each page, have a message that if they are getting this copy in some other way, it is theft. And that a half-trained servitor is in charge of policing thefts, as well as US civil and criminal courts.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    I know someone how has her store enchanted to hex shoplifters and bless paying customers. Not a bad idea for books, perhaps?

    Tech might be part of the solution, but in my experience geeks will and can hack anything.

  • Kayeberry2

    I actually saw a “return book spell somewhere, lol”

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    This is an interesting look at plagiarism within Paganism: http://elorie.livejournal.com/1373731.html

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    This is an interesting look at plagiarism within Paganism: http://elorie.livejournal.com/1373731.html

  • http://worksofliterata.wordpress.com Literata

    I know it’s not going to fix everything, but this is why I put a Creative Commons license on my blog material and encourage others to do the same with their works, whether blogs, rituals, poetry, or whatever. http://worksofliterata.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/creative-commons-and-the-pagan-community/

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Creative Commons is great for those creating content out of service but it doesn’t solve much for those who want/need compensation for their work. I know several folks who work via CC license that I honestly feel should be compensated.

  • Literata

    I know it’s not going to fix everything, but this is why I put a Creative Commons license on my blog material and encourage others to do the same with their works, whether blogs, rituals, poetry, or whatever. http://worksofliterata.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/creative-commons-and-the-pagan-community/

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Creative Commons is great for those creating content out of service but it doesn’t solve much for those who want/need compensation for their work. I know several folks who work via CC license that I honestly feel should be compensated.

  • Hbuchy

    Can it really be considered ‘sacred literature’ if it is considered intellectual property and sold in the first place?
    I’m dead set against the theft of intellectual property. I wish folks would confine their arguments to that characterisation.
    Should what is considered ‘sacred’ be sold? or is is just information?

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    People buy Bibles and Qurans. I bought a book full of sacred liturgy when I first started that is still dear to me today. I’ve bought poetry that has led me to spiritual awakenings.

    Rather than bought, I like to think that the sacred should be earned. I just helped spread mulch and polish candlesticks today. I am giving something of worth because I am receiving something of worth.

    Money isn’t base. It’s material and earthy and good for you, but so is scrubbing floors, planting veggies and going on long walks.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Have you two met before?
    Star, may I present Hbuchy? Che, this is Star.

  • Hbuchy

    Hiya Fronded One,
    No I haven’t had the pleasure. Hiya Star!

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Hi Che! Nice to meet ya! Any friend of the Statler and Waldorf of Paganism is a friend of mine! :o)

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    I’m wondering if I can ever become the Keith Olbermann of Pagandom, polarizing, known for ranting, and getting contracts for $7 million a year (and getting fired every 8 years or so).

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    If I had the money I would totally hire you to do that. But you’d had to find a fabulous straight-shooting gay man to be your Maddow.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    As if there is some shortage of fabulous straight-shooting gay men in Pagandom? I could name a half a dozen in seconds!

  • Hbuchy

    yes, indeed they do, and they are also available for free, and the authors don’t squawk about it.
    I’d have to disagree with the sacred having to be earned. One makes something sacred by giving, dedicating the work to the gods.
    It isn’t about seperating sacred from the mundane. My objection to characterising these works as sacred is because something is expected in return, thus to me diminishing their sacredness.
    It’s funny when some of the same persons who complain about their ‘sacred’ intellectual property being plagiarised often complain my spirituality is too intellectual heh.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    We do have a lot of information for free. Shoot just the Internet Sacred Archives alone is a treasure trove of free info. But shouldn’t Lon Milo DuQuette profit from his work in his lifetime, as Crowley did in his? Neither of them are making a killing, and eventually DuQuette’s work will be in the public domain.

    I think of religion in terms of relationships. Relationships are never “free”. They are defined by give and take, by reciprocity. I think that’s holy in and of itself.

  • Hbuchy

    Ah do we want to go there? ‘Profit by his work”?
    And in the majority of cases, the only ‘give and take” is information for cash. That’s commerce and business.
    So as I said, yes sure intellectual property, and a mundane exchange and relationship. Subject to mundane laws. Of course Duquette works within a different paradigm, than ‘wicca’, so the ardanes don’t apply, nor need he abide them.
    So he need not worry about “profiting from the art”.
    But then it is nice to quote selective ardanes in support when one characterises intellectual property as Sacred, because it deals with the craft and be silent on those which speak to profiting by it.
    As an old craft witch, you have to excuse my being unsympathetic.
    I’ve heard all the arguments there, besides the majority of craft books are a respinning of traditional craft ideas, or works and can hardly be considered ‘property’ by any one person.
    Buying a book isn’t exactly what I would call a religious relationship.
    But neither is stealing one.
    I’m just saying, keep the religious or sacred out of the discussion, because it will open a whole can of worms which will crawl all over and become very messy:-)

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I hope Mr. DuQuette profits more from his work in this lifetime than Crowley ever did. Contrary to popular belief, Crowley never made a lot of money from his innumerable books and publications. Their publication was mostly paid for by himself, and he used up much of his considerable inheritance publishing his books. None of them ever sold well enough to where Crowley recouped his expenses.

    Your point about the holiness of reciprocity is well-taken.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    This is very true. Even at best, occult and Pagan authors make very little from their work.

  • Kayeberry2

    The original christian bible is that of the Jewish, so I wonder why the Jewish people never sued the christians for stealing the five books of moses? also, why cant we take the “new testiment” and get rid of all the hatred in it and resell it as a new age book? hhmmm, just thinkin…..

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    I think Thomas Jefferson already did that.

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    To clarify from a copyright perspective, you’re not buying the Bible.  Instead, you are buying that specific person’s translation of the Bible.  Hence the reason “the Bible” can be copyrighted.

    However, as you say, they’re still freely distributed.  Most churches absorb this expense or have someone that absorbs this expense for them.

  • Hbuchy

    Can it really be considered ‘sacred literature’ if it is considered intellectual property and sold in the first place?
    I’m dead set against the theft of intellectual property. I wish folks would confine their arguments to that characterisation.
    Should what is considered ‘sacred’ be sold? or is is just information?

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    People buy Bibles and Qurans. I bought a book full of sacred liturgy when I first started that is still dear to me today. I’ve bought poetry that has led me to spiritual awakenings.

    Rather than bought, I like to think that the sacred should be earned. I just helped spread mulch and polish candlesticks today. I am giving something of worth because I am receiving something of worth.

    Money isn’t base. It’s material and earthy and good for you, but so is scrubbing floors, planting veggies and going on long walks.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Have you two met before?
    Star, may I present Hbuchy? Che, this is Star.

  • Hbuchy

    Hiya Fronded One,
    No I haven’t had the pleasure. Hiya Star!

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Hi Che! Nice to meet ya! Any friend of the Statler and Waldorf of Paganism is a friend of mine! :o)

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    I’m wondering if I can ever become the Keith Olbermann of Pagandom, polarizing, known for ranting, and getting contracts for $7 million a year (and getting fired every 8 years or so).

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    If I had the money I would totally hire you to do that. But you’d had to find a fabulous straight-shooting gay man to be your Maddow.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    As if there is some shortage of fabulous straight-shooting gay men in Pagandom? I could name a half a dozen in seconds!

  • Hbuchy

    yes, indeed they do, and they are also available for free, and the authors don’t squawk about it.
    I’d have to disagree with the sacred having to be earned. One makes something sacred by giving, dedicating the work to the gods.
    It isn’t about seperating sacred from the mundane. My objection to characterising these works as sacred is because something is expected in return, thus to me diminishing their sacredness.
    It’s funny when some of the same persons who complain about their ‘sacred’ intellectual property being plagiarised often complain my spirituality is too intellectual heh.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    We do have a lot of information for free. Shoot just the Internet Sacred Archives alone is a treasure trove of free info. But shouldn’t Lon Milo DuQuette profit from his work in his lifetime, as Crowley did in his? Neither of them are making a killing, and eventually DuQuette’s work will be in the public domain.

    I think of religion in terms of relationships. Relationships are never “free”. They are defined by give and take, by reciprocity. I think that’s holy in and of itself.

  • Hbuchy

    Ah do we want to go there? ‘Profit by his work”?
    And in the majority of cases, the only ‘give and take” is information for cash. That’s commerce and business.
    So as I said, yes sure intellectual property, and a mundane exchange and relationship. Subject to mundane laws. Of course Duquette works within a different paradigm, than ‘wicca’, so the ardanes don’t apply, nor need he abide them.
    So he need not worry about “profiting from the art”.
    But then it is nice to quote selective ardanes in support when one characterises intellectual property as Sacred, because it deals with the craft and be silent on those which speak to profiting by it.
    As an old craft witch, you have to excuse my being unsympathetic.
    I’ve heard all the arguments there, besides the majority of craft books are a respinning of traditional craft ideas, or works and can hardly be considered ‘property’ by any one person.
    Buying a book isn’t exactly what I would call a religious relationship.
    But neither is stealing one.
    I’m just saying, keep the religious or sacred out of the discussion, because it will open a whole can of worms which will crawl all over and become very messy:-)

  • happydog

    Personally, I hope Mr. DuQuette profits more from his work in this lifetime than Crowley ever did. Contrary to popular belief, Crowley never made a lot of money from his innumerable books and publications. Their publication was mostly paid for by himself, and he used up much of his considerable inheritance publishing his books. None of them ever sold well enough to where Crowley recouped his expenses.

    Your point about the holiness of reciprocity is well-taken.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    This is very true. Even at best, occult and Pagan authors make very little from their work.

  • Kayeberry2

    The original christian bible is that of the Jewish, so I wonder why the Jewish people never sued the christians for stealing the five books of moses? also, why cant we take the “new testiment” and get rid of all the hatred in it and resell it as a new age book? hhmmm, just thinkin…..

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    I think Thomas Jefferson already did that.

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    To clarify from a copyright perspective, you’re not buying the Bible.  Instead, you are buying that specific person’s translation of the Bible.  Hence the reason “the Bible” can be copyrighted.

    However, as you say, they’re still freely distributed.  Most churches absorb this expense or have someone that absorbs this expense for them.

  • http://hellenismos.us Tim

    I don’t know about the “Pagan Christianity: book, but just because a book in in print, and the in print version have a copyright notice, does not mean that it is not public domain. Once a work goes public domain, if it is still popular, it is not unusual for one or more publishers to start printing it. The copyright notice is just to that version of the publication, which if it is an identical reprint, makes the notice almost meaningless.

  • Tim

    I really need to proof read what I write when it is this late. lol

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Actually I contacted the authors before posting this. They were unaware someone was giving away their copyrighted material and not terribly pleased to see their book listed as occult.

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Copyright lasts until the authors are dead + (today’s year – year when Mickey Mouse was first copyrighted) years essentially.  That means it takes seemingly forever for copyright to expire and something to go into the public domain.

    EDIT: This is the case for the US, copyright law varies significantly around the world.

  • http://hellenismos.us Tim

    I don’t know about the “Pagan Christianity: book, but just because a book in in print, and the in print version have a copyright notice, does not mean that it is not public domain. Once a work goes public domain, if it is still popular, it is not unusual for one or more publishers to start printing it. The copyright notice is just to that version of the publication, which if it is an identical reprint, makes the notice almost meaningless.

  • Tim

    I really need to proof read what I write when it is this late. lol

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Actually I contacted the authors before posting this. They were unaware someone was giving away their copyrighted material and not terribly pleased to see their book listed as occult.

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Copyright lasts until the authors are dead + (today’s year – year when Mickey Mouse was first copyrighted) years essentially.  That means it takes seemingly forever for copyright to expire and something to go into the public domain.

    EDIT: This is the case for the US, copyright law varies significantly around the world.

  • Hbuchy

    And just to touch on the perpetuating of ‘the free information’ culture you might want to visit
    http://www.osogd.org
    and read their manifesto.

  • Hbuchy

    And just to touch on the perpetuating of ‘the free information’ culture you might want to visit
    http://www.osogd.org
    and read their manifesto.

  • http://www.confessionsofapagansoccermom.com/ Mrs.B.

    Bravo!

    There are way too many “If you didn’t want it copied, you shouldn’t have put it online” people out there. Pagan authors who write online and want to share their knowledge are ripped off right and left. There is so little respect for the work they are doing.

    I’ve seen so many blogs and websites that are just cut and paste articles from different Pagan books, online articles and other blogs. If you read something you like, a link to the original is so much better than implying you’ve written it yourself!

  • http://www.confessionsofapagansoccermom.com/ Mrs.B.

    Bravo!

    There are way too many “If you didn’t want it copied, you shouldn’t have put it online” people out there. Pagan authors who write online and want to share their knowledge are ripped off right and left. There is so little respect for the work they are doing.

    I’ve seen so many blogs and websites that are just cut and paste articles from different Pagan books, online articles and other blogs. If you read something you like, a link to the original is so much better than implying you’ve written it yourself!

  • Helix (Christine Kraemer)

    I agree about making sure to support Pagan authors and artists. On the other hand, Leland presented his work as Italian oral tradition, and Crowley presented his as a channeled document — they explicitly said it was not their work to begin with, but received work. Gardner and Valiente using phrases from them and alluding to them is not “ripping them off”; it’s continuing the process of developing a body of liturgical material. Deriving new liturgy from those documents is no more plagiarism than deriving new liturgy from biblical texts. It’s part of building a religious tradition; it’s part of making art. All the great writers allude to and use elements of what came before. If we define that as plagiarism, we make the artistic and religious interactions that form literary movements and religious traditions impossible.

  • Mother Bear

    Enlightenment and sharing are a form of education. Taking ones work and putting it out there as your own is one thing, and I believe is wrong. To cut and paste a portion of something, giving the reference to the author, the book the publisher and so on is to bring the attention of others to a given artist. If you are engaged in a discussion on one issue, pasting a full article may be far more then needed and could well push folks away from the issue you are speaking to, sharing on, gaining enlightenment from. To use the words of another as your own is wrong. To bring the words of others to the attention of others, this is a good thing. It’s along the lines of “Once you speak the words, you give them life.” You’ve put it out there. Once you have, it is going to get around. It should be our intent that what we put out there is for the good of all.

    I think some of this goes too far. Like Mc Donald’s thinking they own the rights to anything with “Mc” on it. Or whatever it was Sarah Palin just said that some of the Jewish groups then got up in arms about, saying it was their line. Some things have more than one meaning and have been said by more than one person and the first to say it can’t just from that point on “own” it. Then you have those that go out of their way to set people up to violate a copy right (Disney) and then go after them for it. If we are trying to teach on a given subject, how many ways are there to word that? I think we have to be careful how far we take this or we could do more harm than good.

  • Helix (Christine Kraemer)

    I agree about making sure to support Pagan authors and artists. On the other hand, Leland presented his work as Italian oral tradition, and Crowley presented his as a channeled document — they explicitly said it was not their work to begin with, but received work. Gardner and Valiente using phrases from them and alluding to them is not “ripping them off”; it’s continuing the process of developing a body of liturgical material. Deriving new liturgy from those documents is no more plagiarism than deriving new liturgy from biblical texts. It’s part of building a religious tradition; it’s part of making art. All the great writers allude to and use elements of what came before. If we define that as plagiarism, we make the artistic and religious interactions that form literary movements and religious traditions impossible.

  • Mother Bear

    Enlightenment and sharing are a form of education. Taking ones work and putting it out there as your own is one thing, and I believe is wrong. To cut and paste a portion of something, giving the reference to the author, the book the publisher and so on is to bring the attention of others to a given artist. If you are engaged in a discussion on one issue, pasting a full article may be far more then needed and could well push folks away from the issue you are speaking to, sharing on, gaining enlightenment from. To use the words of another as your own is wrong. To bring the words of others to the attention of others, this is a good thing. It’s along the lines of “Once you speak the words, you give them life.” You’ve put it out there. Once you have, it is going to get around. It should be our intent that what we put out there is for the good of all.

    I think some of this goes too far. Like Mc Donald’s thinking they own the rights to anything with “Mc” on it. Or whatever it was Sarah Palin just said that some of the Jewish groups then got up in arms about, saying it was their line. Some things have more than one meaning and have been said by more than one person and the first to say it can’t just from that point on “own” it. Then you have those that go out of their way to set people up to violate a copy right (Disney) and then go after them for it. If we are trying to teach on a given subject, how many ways are there to word that? I think we have to be careful how far we take this or we could do more harm than good.

  • Ellen Evert Hopman

    Very few realize the time and sacrifice required to write books. In order to do that I have lived in voluntary poverty for over 20 years, working part time “day jobs” just so that I would have the psychic reserves and energy left to write. To then have the books sold “used” is bad enough because I and the publishers derive nothing from those sales. To offer books for free on the internet is even worse. The best thing anyone can do to help support an author is to buy the books directly from them.
    Ellen Evert Hopman http://www.elleneverthopman.com

  • Ellen Evert Hopman

    Very few realize the time and sacrifice required to write books. In order to do that I have lived in voluntary poverty for over 20 years, working part time “day jobs” just so that I would have the psychic reserves and energy left to write. To then have the books sold “used” is bad enough because I and the publishers derive nothing from those sales. To offer books for free on the internet is even worse. The best thing anyone can do to help support an author is to buy the books directly from them.
    Ellen Evert Hopman http://www.elleneverthopman.com

  • Sara A

    Ideas can’t be copyrighted. Words can.

    I believe that takes care of the “received teaching” and “selling the sacred” arguments. It doesn’t matter if someone took dictation from the Angel Foofaraw…they wrote down the words, the words are theirs. They still own the copyright, and copying the WORDS is a violation of their rights.

    Writing about ideas without acknowledging the source is not necessarily violation of copyright, but it can be considered plagiarism depending on what it is and how you do it. The main issue if you are trying to present yourself as an authority on a subject is that it may piss off your colleagues and makes you look like an idiot.

  • Hbuchy

    part of the argument against infringement was presented as ‘stealing the sacred’. My argument was why characterise it as such?
    to invoke some sort of “sin”, because you didn’t pay for something characterised as sacred? Why does that have to be part of the argument when ‘stealing intellectual property’ is sufficient.
    why bring ‘sacred’ or ‘religion’ into it?
    It’s a dangerous equation.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Well, you shouldn’t steal, period. Yet if what you are stealing is for your spiritual work then your spiritual work is already doomed, because you’re not concerned with developing your character and building your honor. I don’t find that dangerous, I find that basic common sense.

  • Sara A

    Ideas can’t be copyrighted. Words can.

    I believe that takes care of the “received teaching” and “selling the sacred” arguments. It doesn’t matter if someone took dictation from the Angel Foofaraw…they wrote down the words, the words are theirs. They still own the copyright, and copying the WORDS is a violation of their rights.

    Writing about ideas without acknowledging the source is not necessarily violation of copyright, but it can be considered plagiarism depending on what it is and how you do it. The main issue if you are trying to present yourself as an authority on a subject is that it may piss off your colleagues and makes you look like an idiot.

  • Hbuchy

    part of the argument against infringement was presented as ‘stealing the sacred’. My argument was why characterise it as such?
    to invoke some sort of “sin”, because you didn’t pay for something characterised as sacred? Why does that have to be part of the argument when ‘stealing intellectual property’ is sufficient.
    why bring ‘sacred’ or ‘religion’ into it?
    It’s a dangerous equation.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Well, you shouldn’t steal, period. Yet if what you are stealing is for your spiritual work then your spiritual work is already doomed, because you’re not concerned with developing your character and building your honor. I don’t find that dangerous, I find that basic common sense.

  • ElrondHubbard

    Maybe this speaks to the bigger problem of how many things have been devalued recently due to immediacy and easy accessibility, two modes greatly encouraged by the internet. A lot of art and ideas have become disposable because no work is required to attain them, and they are treated as free even when such is not the case. Sacred texts are interesting because in the past a person often had to join orders and societies in order to even have access or knowledge; now all of that information is available at the click of a button. This is in sharp contrast to the days when it was considered dangerous to allow people to learn how to read. I think it’s important for an artist to be able to make money from their work; at best art and spirituality are hopefully transcendent, but at the end of the day everyone needs to eat and keep a roof over their heads. Money is of course just a symbolic gesture and the idea that it’s the reason for everything is ridiculous, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit and hopefully a living from something important to you. Unfortunately, that is even harder to do when your work is treated as a free commodity to be liberally pillaged with no acknowledgment, let alone compensation. Add to this the fact that sacred texts and rituals have historically often been a hodgepodge of various written and oral traditions, and the notion of ownership gets slippery. Great post!

  • ElrondHubbard

    Maybe this speaks to the bigger problem of how many things have been devalued recently due to immediacy and easy accessibility, two modes greatly encouraged by the internet. A lot of art and ideas have become disposable because no work is required to attain them, and they are treated as free even when such is not the case. Sacred texts are interesting because in the past a person often had to join orders and societies in order to even have access or knowledge; now all of that information is available at the click of a button. This is in sharp contrast to the days when it was considered dangerous to allow people to learn how to read. I think it’s important for an artist to be able to make money from their work; at best art and spirituality are hopefully transcendent, but at the end of the day everyone needs to eat and keep a roof over their heads. Money is of course just a symbolic gesture and the idea that it’s the reason for everything is ridiculous, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a profit and hopefully a living from something important to you. Unfortunately, that is even harder to do when your work is treated as a free commodity to be liberally pillaged with no acknowledgment, let alone compensation. Add to this the fact that sacred texts and rituals have historically often been a hodgepodge of various written and oral traditions, and the notion of ownership gets slippery. Great post!

  • K. C. Hulsman

    It’s not just texts that are shamelessly stolen, but artworks as well. People find art online, and then use it to make calendars, shirts, etc. they sell locally.

    And outside of paganism, especially with this younger generation that has grown up in the age of the internet and wifi connectivity ‘theft’ is widespread. Many youngsters don’t understand what they’re doing is wrong. So part of the problem becomes an education issue, part of it we see in the legislative bodies’ attempts to try to catch up with the technology. But current US law, puts the onus of copyright protection on the individual or company that owns the copyright. The world wide web is such a big place, it’s very difficult to ‘police’ it all. Even with companies who have dedicated legal teams who go through and work on taking it down, they can still spring back up, either by new people involved in the infringement, or by the old group trying to resurrect themselves like the phoenix.

  • K. C. Hulsman

    It’s not just texts that are shamelessly stolen, but artworks as well. People find art online, and then use it to make calendars, shirts, etc. they sell locally.

    And outside of paganism, especially with this younger generation that has grown up in the age of the internet and wifi connectivity ‘theft’ is widespread. Many youngsters don’t understand what they’re doing is wrong. So part of the problem becomes an education issue, part of it we see in the legislative bodies’ attempts to try to catch up with the technology. But current US law, puts the onus of copyright protection on the individual or company that owns the copyright. The world wide web is such a big place, it’s very difficult to ‘police’ it all. Even with companies who have dedicated legal teams who go through and work on taking it down, they can still spring back up, either by new people involved in the infringement, or by the old group trying to resurrect themselves like the phoenix.

  • http://www.thedomesticpagan.com/ Serenity Athenina

    A few months ago I was accused of plagerism and not crediting sources and it really opened my eyes to how I as blogging. Many thought I was doing it intentionally but I was just being a sloppy blogger. I made a public apology and cleaned up my ways. It nearly ruined my reputation after spending three years building up my blog following so people really need to take it seriously.

  • http://www.thedomesticpagan.com/ Serenity Athenina

    A few months ago I was accused of plagerism and not crediting sources and it really opened my eyes to how I as blogging. Many thought I was doing it intentionally but I was just being a sloppy blogger. I made a public apology and cleaned up my ways. It nearly ruined my reputation after spending three years building up my blog following so people really need to take it seriously.

  • http://FreedomforIP.org/blog/ sarterus

    “Gardner ripped off Crowley and Leland” in the same way Disney ripped off or more accurately remixed the Brothers Grim. Culture and religion builds on the past. Paganism and especially oral traditions grow over time in a way modern copyright is not made to cope with the reality of a remix culture.

    If artist want to make money they need to work with the culture of remix and reuse. Make it easy for people to buy official copies. Offer a pay what you want model, you would be shocked at how many people offer to pay a lot for things that are also available for free. Offer premium limited editions. Many people want something that was from the author a leather bound hand signed copy give a personal touch one can not get with a free download. The key is to be creative and find the new business models that are working not to whine about copyright. Authors have made a living for hundreds of years before copyright existed. Shakespeare did not have copyright. 90% of the Christian era did not have copyright. Copyright may be broken but making a living is not.

    Fair use
    Lots of the reuse that is going is protected first amendment free speech. Section 107 of the copyright act specifically allows for some reuse without permission.

    Creative commons:
    CC is a great alternative and it is not just for non professionals. Lots of music and books are released under CC and the artist still get paid. NIN is a great example even when giving away Ghost I-IV millions of people paid for an official copy on amazon making it the best selling album for the year via amazons download service.

    Copyright infringement and plagiarism is not the same thing. Plagiarism is claiming others work is your own work. One should always give credit when you build on others ideas and one should not claim to have written things they did not write. It would be great if early pagan writers would have given more source. We can build a tradition that give credit where credit is due. Although, I am for sharing copyrighted work I am against plagiarism.

    Brian Rowe
    pagan and copyright scholar

  • http://BrianRowe.org Brian Rowe

    “Gardner ripped off Crowley and Leland” in the same way Disney ripped off or more accurately remixed the Brothers Grim. Culture and religion builds on the past. Paganism and especially oral traditions grow over time in a way modern copyright is not made to cope with the reality of a remix culture.

    If artist want to make money they need to work with the culture of remix and reuse. Make it easy for people to buy official copies. Offer a pay what you want model, you would be shocked at how many people offer to pay a lot for things that are also available for free. Offer premium limited editions. Many people want something that was from the author a leather bound hand signed copy give a personal touch one can not get with a free download. The key is to be creative and find the new business models that are working not to whine about copyright. Authors have made a living for hundreds of years before copyright existed. Shakespeare did not have copyright. 90% of the Christian era did not have copyright. Copyright may be broken but making a living is not.

    Fair use
    Lots of the reuse that is going is protected first amendment free speech. Section 107 of the copyright act specifically allows for some reuse without permission.

    Creative commons:
    CC is a great alternative and it is not just for non professionals. Lots of music and books are released under CC and the artist still get paid. NIN is a great example even when giving away Ghost I-IV millions of people paid for an official copy on amazon making it the best selling album for the year via amazons download service.

    Copyright infringement and plagiarism is not the same thing. Plagiarism is claiming others work is your own work. One should always give credit when you build on others ideas and one should not claim to have written things they did not write. It would be great if early pagan writers would have given more source. We can build a tradition that give credit where credit is due. Although, I am for sharing copyrighted work I am against plagiarism.

    Brian Rowe
    pagan and copyright scholar

  • http://dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    I wish there was an easy answer to this, but because media has changed so drastically it’s only gotten muddier. I was one of the early infringers – there was an unfortunate mess with my very first website that I spent over a year rectifying – and nowadays I’m constantly finding work I’ve published posted wholesale on different blogs. Some of this is a problem with the way my publisher distributes info, some is ignorance, very little is ill intent.

    What I would like to see, and this goes with the Creative Commons approach, is my work used as *building blocks* to something greater, to new creativity, rituals or concepts.

    It’s not just Pagan artists that play out this quandary: most artists do it from calling, and hope for the best. Yes, the support *is* appreciated and it is possible to make a living with sufficient support. But there is a cultural shift afoot that goes beyond straight up piracy.

  • http://blog.dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    I wish there was an easy answer to this, but because media has changed so drastically it’s only gotten muddier. I was one of the early infringers – there was an unfortunate mess with my very first website that I spent over a year rectifying – and nowadays I’m constantly finding work I’ve published posted wholesale on different blogs. Some of this is a problem with the way my publisher distributes info, some is ignorance, very little is ill intent.

    What I would like to see, and this goes with the Creative Commons approach, is my work used as *building blocks* to something greater, to new creativity, rituals or concepts.

    It’s not just Pagan artists that play out this quandary: most artists do it from calling, and hope for the best. Yes, the support *is* appreciated and it is possible to make a living with sufficient support. But there is a cultural shift afoot that goes beyond straight up piracy.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Trystn M. Branwynn  asked me to post this for her since she is having technical difficulties with Disqus:

    While I am certainly not Wiccan, and don’t hold with Gardner’s “Old
    Law,” I certainly do support efforts to protect copyrights. I admit to
    mixed thoughts about Metallica’s response to napster – I remember the
    days when they would have begged such a site to distribute their
    material – but I also appreciate that unauthorized sharing of complete
    albums certainly damaged the recording industry.

    I would go further
    to say that just as accepting money for magic devalues the magical act;
    taking copyrighted work and passing it off as one’s own not only
    devalues the work, it debases the plagiarist and shows that he or she is
    incapable, not only of the simple honesty of attribution, but also of
    any origination of his or her own. In short, it shows clearly that the
    would-be “author” has no understanding of what he or she purports to
    expound.
    While I do agree that Current or Trad based training cannot
    be assigned a monetary value, for a multitude of reasons, even this
    knowledge carries its own cost. One must work to attain it – to
    understand it. Plagiarism clearly indicates that no such work has been
    undertaken by the plagiarist. In a magical context, he or she is not
    only a thief, but also a clear fake.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Trystn M. Branwynn  asked me to post this for him since he is having technical difficulties with Disqus:

    While I am certainly not Wiccan, and don’t hold with Gardner’s “Old
    Law,” I certainly do support efforts to protect copyrights. I admit to
    mixed thoughts about Metallica’s response to napster – I remember the
    days when they would have begged such a site to distribute their
    material – but I also appreciate that unauthorized sharing of complete
    albums certainly damaged the recording industry.

    I would go further
    to say that just as accepting money for magic devalues the magical act;
    taking copyrighted work and passing it off as one’s own not only
    devalues the work, it debases the plagiarist and shows that he or she is
    incapable, not only of the simple honesty of attribution, but also of
    any origination of his or her own. In short, it shows clearly that the
    would-be “author” has no understanding of what he or she purports to
    expound.
    While I do agree that Current or Trad based training cannot
    be assigned a monetary value, for a multitude of reasons, even this
    knowledge carries its own cost. One must work to attain it – to
    understand it. Plagiarism clearly indicates that no such work has been
    undertaken by the plagiarist. In a magical context, he or she is not
    only a thief, but also a clear fake.

  • http://twitter.com/ashareem HR Mitchell

    Xoanon (Chumbley, Schulke, etc.) also aggressively protects their copyright, which is a necessity in this day and age, and the original prices on their books is not outrageously high, it’s the after-market so-called “collectors” who drive the prices up.

    There is a collection of files that show up frequently on eBay and similar sites, usually called something like the “Internet Book of Shadows”; large parts of it are incorporated into The Internet Sacred Text Archive. They began life as messages and files shared on the old BBS networks, such as FIDO and PODS. They were intended as a free resource, but many of those included work copyright to others, such as Valiente, the Farrars, Buckland and more. Now, it’s being sold, despite being freely available in any number of locations on the web (sometimes sanitized of the copyrighted pieces, more often not.)

    Then there is the so-called “Gardnerian Book of Shadows” you can find both on line and for sale on line; which derives from Aiden Kelley’s Crafting the Art of Magic and which was posted online without Kelley’s permission.

    I’m citing these examples not as a defense of the copyright violations/plagiarization, but rather to point out how long-standing and wide-spread the problem is. Prior to the internet, who knows how much of it went undetected?

  • http://twitter.com/ashareem HRM

    Xoanon (Chumbley, Schulke, etc.) also aggressively protects their copyright, which is a necessity in this day and age, and the original prices on their books is not outrageously high, it’s the after-market so-called “collectors” who drive the prices up.

    There is a collection of files that show up frequently on eBay and similar sites, usually called something like the “Internet Book of Shadows”; large parts of it are incorporated into The Internet Sacred Text Archive. They began life as messages and files shared on the old BBS networks, such as FIDO and PODS. They were intended as a free resource, but many of those included work copyright to others, such as Valiente, the Farrars, Buckland and more. Now, it’s being sold, despite being freely available in any number of locations on the web (sometimes sanitized of the copyrighted pieces, more often not.)

    Then there is the so-called “Gardnerian Book of Shadows” you can find both on line and for sale on line; which derives from Aiden Kelley’s Crafting the Art of Magic and which was posted online without Kelley’s permission.

    I’m citing these examples not as a defense of the copyright violations/plagiarization, but rather to point out how long-standing and wide-spread the problem is. Prior to the internet, who knows how much of it went undetected?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1546700084 Valerie Herron

    As a working artist, I would like to thank you for this article, Star. Articles like this are important, because I think the majority of people that commit copyright infringement are probably unaware that they are doing so. For example, it might not occur to someone that they need to add an author’s  name if they are sharing an inspirational paragraph from their favorite book on their blog. This is totally innocent, and I’ve seen it a bunch of times.

    I think it is equally important to keep that in mind when we talk to others about copyright infringement. I recently came across someone who was using one of my paintings as a profile picture on their facebook profile. I sent them a message letting them know that they needed to credit me in a caption with the photo, and they wrote back super apologetic, it hadn’t even occurred to them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1546700084 Valerie Herron

    Obviously this is another matter all together when we are talking about people making money off of other people’s work otherwise claiming it for their own!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1546700084 Valerie Herron

    As a working artist, I would like to thank you for this article, Star. Articles like this are important, because I think the majority of people that commit copyright infringement are probably unaware that they are doing so. For example, it might not occur to someone that they need to add an author’s  name if they are sharing an inspirational paragraph from their favorite book on their blog. This is totally innocent, and I’ve seen it a bunch of times.

    I think it is equally important to keep that in mind when we talk to others about copyright infringement. I recently came across someone who was using one of my paintings as a profile picture on their facebook profile. I sent them a message letting them know that they needed to credit me in a caption with the photo, and they wrote back super apologetic, it hadn’t even occurred to them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1546700084 Valerie Herron

    Obviously this is another matter all together when we are talking about people making money off of other people’s work otherwise claiming it for their own!

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Thanks for highlighting this issue Star.  

    In the Proud Pagan Podcasters, a few months ago we began making sure Pagan podcasts were respecting copyright (per the laws of their own country, as not to impose a US-centric viewpoint).  

    We have gotten some flack on this, people feeling that they should be able to use whatever copyrighted music they want without permission despite our efforts to secure permission to play the copyrighted music of many Pagan musicians, and I know many hosts secure their own permission for music.  

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Thanks for highlighting this issue Star.  

    In the Proud Pagan Podcasters, a few months ago we began making sure Pagan podcasts were respecting copyright (per the laws of their own country, as not to impose a US-centric viewpoint).  

    We have gotten some flack on this, people feeling that they should be able to use whatever copyrighted music they want without permission despite our efforts to secure permission to play the copyrighted music of many Pagan musicians, and I know many hosts secure their own permission for music.