C is for copyright

Or, I get to merge my professional and spiritual lives for the sake of blogging!

Source used under Creative Commons license.

At the start of the calendar year there was something of a dust-up over on Tumblr after someone posted a .pdf file containing the text of about 300 books. Among those books were several titles which are still under copyright. The discussion of copyright infringement sparked a lot of conversation, including from one of the publishers whose work was included in the file.

Myths about pirated books

Deep thoughts from a book pirate

If you missed those posts last month, I encourage you to read them now.

So what are the issues here?

1. Posting of books in an unauthorized electronic format is ILLEGAL. Plain and simple. Unless the author explicitly states otherwise, written material is automatically under copyright. Incidentally, this also applies to material posted to the internet.

2. It’s unethical. How is it unethical? Let me count the ways.
*It’s infringing on the author’s right to make a living. Most pagan/polytheist/magical authors do not make a large amount of money on their writing. By posting their books in this format, you cut in to their livelihoods.
*For those who follow a “harm none” philosophy, I refer to the point above. Again, these authors aren’t rolling in dough from their writings. These sort of files can cut in to money they NEED just to keep their lives going. If your spiritual path includes dictates relating to honor, I would find it hard to think a person doing such things in honorable.

I’ve also regularly seen full text of articles wind up on Tumblr without permission of the author. Yes this does qualify under the same rules of copyright. Besides, there are enough authors who have some of their work online which they chose to release. Support that. You’re not doing much to show authors that you like their works if you’re only reading pirated versions of their works.

But some issues also do come up with this discussion.
I can’t afford all these books!
This one is a fair statement. The economy is still in a slump, no matter what some pundits may try to say. Paganisms aren’t all about reading, they’re about doing and experiencing. There are a free resources you can check out, like Sacred Texts, Project Guetenberg, and more specific sites like Northvegr for Norse/Germanic mythology. There is also a great resource which your area might have called a library. In fact, I’ll even take things one step further and give you this bit of information. As a resident of your state you CAN get free access to public college and university libraries and check out books there. If they don’t specifically have any neopagan or modern polytheist titles, look for religion books (BL especially if the library uses the Library of Congress classification system), but also check for history, mythology, and anthropology.
You can also always hunt online for used copies of books, check sites like Paperback Swap, and ask friends to borrow their books.

My library doesn’t have these books!
If you’re really hard up for money, or looking for a specific title, ask your library about getting a title through Interlibrary loan. Incidentally, if you do this often, please seriously consider making a donation of money or time to your library. ILL costs a lot of money.

I still can’t find the books!
Well, there are still blogs to be read (like this one, the ones I liked in the sidebar, and a TON of blogs on all sides of paganisms. There are people who have written up free articles online.
We’re also not a religion of the book, or books. Don’t forget to go out there and DO ritual. PRACTICE. Experience life. If you’re not sure what to do, may I suggest starting out by talking to your ancestors.

If you’re still not convinced, turn the table and think how you would feel if you put months or years of work into a book, only to find out your works were being pirated online.

EDIT: One of my fellow bloggers, Dver, did a really nice post about taking advantage of library resources to turn up information.

This post is a part of the Pagan Blog Project.

4 thoughts on “C is for copyright

  1. I liked this =) And I agree with you, it would be devastating to find a book you’ve spent months to write copyed online. I have registered on a bookshop online where I put the books I want in a “favourite list”. This way I can order one or two when I can afford it. It’s a little like a treat when I’ve done something good. And I really believe in blogs: More blogs to the people! (that sounds so much better in Swedish…)

    Blessed be!

  2. Hejsan Elena-Marie! (don’t ask for more Swedish, I understand way more than I can speak or write)
    I have a HUGE wish list on Amazon and do exactly what you suggest, buy a few when I have some money. Or if there is something I feel I really NEED at a certain time. But these days that is not as common.

    Yes indeed more blogs, and good blogs at that!

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