Pagans, Copyright Infringement, and Social Media

Protecting one's copyright online is a murky, icky topic that ends up, invariably, in people either getting really angry and storming off or throwing their hands in the air in an 'it is what it is' gesture. I've been discussing the notion of copyright and social media for the last few days, both on the blog and on social media, and I'd like to share with you a few different ways to understand this issue.

I first started becoming a bit confused about copyright and social media in April of 2012, when I saw a meme that looked something like this:

Except, it wasn't in color, and it was cropped into a square. A black and white, square version of the above was being passed around Facebook and Twitter like it was the best thing ever. It had some ridiculous phrase on it that was meant to be a joke about riding on brooms while drunk, which wasn't all that funny. But, I remember everyone asking, "Wow! Beautiful picture! Where did it come from?" The picture was accompanied by a little caption that read 'Artist Unknown'. And, that led me to think, Really? The artist is unknown, huh?

So, I opened Google Images and dragged and dropped the image into the search bar (did you know you can do that now?) and, oddly enough, this mysterious artist's name popped up immediately.

The name of the artist is Svetlana Belyaeva, a photographer who can be contacted through their website. This entire process took me, as you can see by the screenshot, less than a second. The Google Image search is a nearly instantaneous process. See image. Click + hold. Drag + Drop. Discover artist's name.

Which, naturally, since it is such a quick and easy process has led to my increasing confusion and frustration regarding the lack of artist attribution across social media. But, let me digress for a moment and define some terms:

What is a copyright? 


Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.
Basically, a copyright is saying that if you make something - such as a song or a painting - you own the right to copy and distribute that thing. You also own the sole right to decide who gets to disseminate - or distribute - that thing or copies of that thing. If someone else wants to use that image or thing, then they must pay you to license it for a period of time.

Now, you don't hold a copyright forever. From the government website:

A work that was created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of “a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.
But, you own the copyright, basically, as long as you're alive and can benefit directly from its use. Apologies to folks like van Gogh who never lived to see their work attain profitability. (But it made for a great story on Doctor Who!)

Ignorant Offenders

In January of 2012, there was much hullabaloo being made about a website that was giving away free PDF and ePub downloads of dozens of Llewellyn published books.  When I wrote about it at the time, I discussed how books are now being traded online for free, and how that is quite wrong. A lot of commenters - not just on my blog, but from blogs around the web - don't understand why it is wrong. I saw many people express the notion that since they're not profiting from it, it's not illegal. Or, the notion that information should be free - which is an entirely different can of Pagan worms about how the masses think teaching, books, etc. should all be free though I think much of that has to do with a generally lower income in our community, but I digress. 

What is so wrong about sharing things for free if you're not making money off of them? Well, in some instances not much, and in some instances quite a lot of things are wrong with it. 

Let me explain... 

I am in a book club. If we choose to read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, most of us buy the book. Some of us choose to buy the audiobook, because we drive great distances and it's convenient. If I buy the audiobook, and I share it with a friend (who let me borrow This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper the month prior) that is not copyright infringement. I've not taken anything significant away from the book's mass earnings. I paid for something and allowed my friend to borrow it. 

If, however, I set up a website where I start giving away digital copies of The Mists of Avalon and thousands of people start downloading them, that is copyright infringement because I have affected the commercial value and the right to disseminate the product.

What is profit?

Profiting from the dissemination of other's copyrighted material, however, can look like a lot of things. It doesn't have to immediately translate to dollars and cents. If I publish a story set in the world of Neverland, I have committed copyright infringement because J. M. Barrie (or whoever currently owns the Barrie rights/estate) owns the rights to Neverland. That means they also own the rights to derivative works based on that story. 

If my book becomes a bestseller and gets made into a movie, the original author stands to lose a lot of money because I took their idea and did something else with it. 

This sets the precedent that profit can also look like the potential loss of revenue. 

If I do not get a license, give attribution, and work out a profit sharing deal with the original owner, I'm in a heap of trouble. I could lose not only all of my profits and my own copyright, but face even further penalties. If I made more than a few thousand off of my copyright infringement, then I face felony charges. 

And this is about the time when bloggers, copyright infringers, and anyone else who decides to chime in on the discussion mentions the words "Fair Use". 

What is Fair Use?

When people bring up fair use, it is in defense, typically, of why they are allowed to break someone's copyright. I'm disseminating this PDF copy of The Mists of Avalon because Fair Use says I can. I'm posting this unedited Katy Perry song because of Fair Use. I'm copying and pasting someone's artwork onto a meme because Fair Use. 

Let's ask the government what constitutes Fair Use:

One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.  
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. 
Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair. 
  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes 
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work 
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole 
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work 

The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

Colloquially speaking, I can quote a line from The Mists of Avalon during my literary review of the work. Fair use allows for the short quotation or paraphrase or bit of song or showing of picture in order to comment on said work. I am allowed certain rights up and until the point that they possibly infringe on the creator's copyright. If I'm posting entire chapters of a book. If I'm uploading full size images of a work of art. If I'm redistributing a song, then I'm violating copyright. That's not fair to the original owner, and, thus, is not fair use.

Which is why you don't hear the song Happy Birthday sung on TV or in movies that often. It is copyrighted, and you have to pay for it every time you sing it on TV.

Side note: In the Facebook group Pagans Against Plagiarism, there was a post regarding a 250 word limit on when something passes the mark between Fair Use and copyright infringement. This is Internet rumor, as the quote above shows that there is no specific number of words, lines, etc. that creates a threshold for plagiarism.

Social Media's Black Hole of Copyright Infringement

Enter social media. We all love us some Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Tumblr or whatever. But, it has become a cesspool for copyright infringement. File sharing sites like Napster, Ares, Limewire, Pirate Bay, etc are both known to us and its end users are getting just desserts. These sites have become highly policed - everyone from publishers to porn companies are suing the pants off of anyone they find illegally downloading - and are rife with viruses to deter the casual downloader, but social media is a whole new beast. 

With social media an artist's work can be shared thousands upon thousands of times before anyone realizes what's going on. As in the case at the beginning of this article, a picture can be cropped, have words added, and be turned into a meme that gets 10,000 likes before anyone asks the question So, who took that picture?

Dorothy Morrison - beloved pagan author and all around awesome Witchy lady - has recently gained some ground by going after various pages on Facebook that have used her work (the spells she's written, ideas she's published, etc.) in memes and other online media without her permission. Go take a look through her timeline for several examples. Since she is the author of that work, she alone - along with her publisher - is allowed to report claims of copyright infringement to Facebook. I cannot report it, as I am not the holder of the copyright.

But, what set me to writing this article, what brought this topic up again, was when I noticed that several well-trafficked pagan-related pages on Facebook make it a regular practice to post pretty pictures for dissemination without attribution. Even going so far as to include their own watermark on a piece that didn't have one, or to further delete an existing watermark in order to add theirs.

For example, this image from the Witches Broom Closet page:

After the recent hubbub regarding pagan pages' lack of attribution (Ron Byrum created the original painting, by the way), this page has now begun to include artist attribution in the comments section of the image. However, they sure did have no problem plastering their name on someone else's image in order to create a meme.

This, however, is a mild case. The page shares pictures and ideas for witchy living and doesn't seem to be making any kind of profit off of the piece.

Rioter Renee Olson pointed out an even worse case of direct copyright infringement, however, from the page Confessions of Crafty Witches. See if you can spot the problem...

The photograph on the right is a screen grab from their page. It depicts the Confessions of Crafty Witches watermark and the added words Banish Troll Spell. The image on the left is the original photo from the Fine Art America website:

I wonder if they asked photographer Arno Enzernik if they could license his image for usage on their site before they removed his watermark? The answer is no. Hey, look! He even found out about this copyright violation and petitioned Facebook to have the image removed. (That's why you can't find it anymore.) Thanks, again, Renee for emailing the artist:

After Renee made this public, the image was taken down from Confessions of Crafty Witches. Luckily, screen grabs last forever.

In fact page after page on Facebook has images, text, recipes, and more from people that make their living as an artist, a photographer, a writer, a cook with absolutely zero attribution or links to where the hundreds or thousands of people that will see that image can then purchase said thing.

And, remember what we learned about copyright infringement and profit? Loss of potential revenue is the same thing, in copyright law, as stealing.

Every single time that a painting is shared without a link to the artist, every time you share a spell of Dorothy Morrison's without asking, every time you remove a watermark and add your own and spread it to the winds you are committing theft.

There's Theft and then there's theft...

Ok... Strong words. You're a thief. I'm a thief. We're all thieves. Bloggers, social media users, anybody with any kind of online presence has at one time or another shared copyrighted material without consent. We do it daily. Hourly. Sometimes 7-8 per minute if we're feeling frisky. (Or up at 2am with insomnia.) 

So, is it all copyright infringement? Do you have to worry about Dorothy Morrison or Arno Enzerink filing legal action on you? Answer: Probably not.

There's a really great, plain English breakdown of Fair Use on At the bottom it answer's the same question. You can break copyright to copy the contents of a CD you purchased to  your computer for use on your MP3 player. You can't copy the contents of a CD you purchased and upload them to a website where 100,000 people can download it for free. The numbers game is actually quite important when discussing Fair Use. 

Is the copied material going to a handful of people and therefore not at all likely to impact the artist significantly in a negative way? Or, is the copied material going on a public social media page with over 200,000 people who 'Like' the page who are then likely to share the image with all of their friends, thereby giving away an artists work to potentially hundreds of thousands of people without paying for it?

To paraphrase a famous geek quote: With great web traffic, comes greater responsibility (to make sure you're not purveying copyrighted works without a license).

California Dental Association

The California Dental Association - of all people to be mentioned on this blog - actually did a really interesting article on the topic of online copyright protection in March of this year. In it, they discuss how dentist's offices are getting sued out the wazzoo (technical term) because they're using pictures of pretty people with pretty teeth on their respective websites without,  you know, getting permission to do  so. 

How can they get sued out the wazzoo (technical term)? Just because you Googled 'pretty smile' and came up with a picture of a nice blond lady with a pretty set of straight teeth doesn't mean that the image can be used royalty free. Even if it doesn't have a watermark and it's a random picture from someone's personal blog, you still can't just go grabbing it to put on your business' website. Here's why:

Photos published on the Internet are not public domain. The Copyright Revision Act protects photographs and other works such as videos, graphics, music, text and trademarks, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act extends protection to the Internet.  
When it comes to dental practice websites, the most common copyright violation is use of a photograph without obtaining a license, according to Eric Gale, a California attorney specializing in copyright infringement cases. Gale noted a spike in copyright cases about five years ago, and said the number has since remained steady.

Replace the word 'photograph' with 'teddy bear voodoo doll picture' or 'painting of a witch's house' or 'spell from a published book' or whatever other copyrighted work you want and you start to see the point. But, exactly how much trouble can websites or businesses that run pages on social media get into?

While the use of copyrighted images may be unintentional, penalties can include retroactive licensing fees for each violation and can result in a website ban. TDIC reports damages between $1,000 and $2,000 per image violation. However, damages can range from $750 to no more than $30,000 per image. If the copyright infringement is established as “willful,” the fine can jump to $150,000 for each violation. Additionally, new technology makes it easy to identify copyright infringement. For instance, photographs may have invisible identification watermarks embedded in them that can be found by searching the web.

Also, the CDA points out that the owner of a website is still culpable (guilty) of the copyright infringement even if the website or page is built or managed by a third party. If you pay ABC Website Builders to build a website or page for you and they commit copyright infringement, the owner is still held liable as the person benefiting from the business site. I suggest if you're a business site owner to click the link included in this section and read their tips for page owners to ensure you won't have similar issues.

Social Media Liability

Ok... So...  That would seem to wrap up business blogs, pages, and websites. But, what about that pesky black hole of social media?

Well, I talked to some of the leaders of a few of the offending pages. The first is a guy named Edward Menten who is the owner of Confessions of Crafty Witches, a page boasting an impressive 206,221 likes as of this writing. I messaged him on Facebook on August 26, along with half a dozen other pages, seeking comment on an upcoming article on copyright infringement. Also, as of the date I interviewed Mr. Menten, the page boasted dozens upon dozens of works that had issues of copyright infringement and/or lack of artist attribution. In fact, if you'll recall from earlier in the article, this is the page that removed a photographer's watermark and replaced it with their own. (Wouldn't want someone else claiming credit for their hard-written Anti-Troll spell, right?)

I will be quoting Mr. Menten verbatim without spelling, grammar, or typographical correction.

When asked about the lack of artist attribution on his page, he replied:

Today I try my very best togive proper credit to people 99% of the time
I find stuff on google Search if it has no watermark or logo or copywrite logo I use it
If I am told it belongs to someone I eitehr take it down or remove it

 As we saw earlier, that statement is incorrect, as the page has been shown to replace an artist's watermark. Moving on. Menten later stated his idea that since everybody else seems to be sharing pictures without attribution, it's ok for his page to do it as well:

Everyone on facebook finds pictures on Google or another search engine and uses it for their own purposes a meme or a recipe or a craft or a cool idea or inspirational quote or eye candy or whatever nobody has a problem with it
if a picture has no watermark, no logo , no copyright logo and I do try to find out who owns the picture first but thanks to pintrest and everyone Pinning everything the same picture is on 10,000 + websites so I can not credit anyone but I do try
When Everyone else does this its fine but when I do suddenly I am the bad person
and I never claim to own anything on the page I make no money I do this whole page for Free yes FREE and I do not need the aggravation and Stress

 As we saw earlier in the article, a lack of watermark or pictured ownership does not preclude an creator's copyright. However, Mr. Menten seems to - like most of the people I spoke with - be severely lacking in the understanding of copyright law. When I asked him if he knew that you could search for an image's source using the image itself with tools like Google or TinEye, he stated:

I use reverse google search to find pictures but something like an Apple ( the fruit ) its on too many sites to count ... I use reverse google search to find pictures but something like an Apple ( the fruit ) its on too many sites to count

I agree with Menten that crediting a picture of something like an apple is a bit more difficult of a feat, and I also posit that this was not the issue presented. When I started asking him about specific images (I just took the most recent 5 images posted to the page) and whether he had been able to find their source, Menten stated:

I do try to credit everyone I can as much as I can
oh are you serious
its a picture

He further stated he had no issue using images without copyright logos, though, as has been shown, the page has no issues using those that do. When asked whether Menten thought we should pay artists for their work (since it's just a picture), he blocked me from speaking with him further and banned me from the Confessions of Crafty Witches page.

Take that for what you will.

I had a very different experience when I talked to the various moderators of the Better Gnomes & Cauldrons page - also via Facebook on August 26 -  (currently hovering just under 67,000 Likes), a page where I also found numerous issues of copyright infringement. When asked the same initial questions I asked Menten, a moderator going by JC said:

We try to give credit. I know most of us try to honor the artist if we can find out who it is. TinEye reverse image look up and google reverse image look up are good for this but, not as extensive as I hope for. I wished that artist just like photographers would put at least their name even if it is small I usually try to blow up the magnification to read the creators name. ~jc

I then asked the same question of whether they still use an image if they cannot find a copyright logo or watermark:

Yes, we do use the image if no copyright or watermark after we use a reverse image search. ~jc

Later, a different moderator contacted me, going by the name AZ:

Hi there ... the correct answer is yes Better Gnomes does "promote" artists, we have a promotional album specifically for artists to have an ad to promote the business. Several of our admins DO infact have their own stores and sell items. We also help promote artists by running contrests with them. -az 
I then did the same little test with Better Gnomes that I did with Confessions and gave examples of recent postings that had no artist attribution. I also gave examples of how quickly you can use Google Image search and/or TinEye to find the work's source. JC replied:

the way social media works, if it isnt clearly watermarked, an image can be shared so often that it becomes difficult to know its origins. As I stated We do our best to credit everything we can and are not in it to rip off or discredit the artist. copyrighted or un licenced work placed in public domain is risky business and every artist should be aware of that and protect their images. Not every image we find is created into a meme by us, we may come across the images already altered and uncredited by the original artist, we will still look for the artist when we can. we have had artists contact us to let us know it is thiers and we will happily credit or remove the image as per their requests.

I agreed that social media is murky territory for copyright, which is why I was asking questions. JC responded:

I honestly believe images will become a free for fall as time and social media evolve, look at reddit, you can place an image there and in 5 minutes its a meme and shared hundreds of thousands of times. Without copyright and licencing, even on your own personal family images on facebook are available to anyone for any use, your treading in murky waters of "trust" that people will respect your art or image. BGC does our best to respect and credit, as much as we can.. sadly we can not always find that artist. its an interesting topic and will look forward to reading the article.

The original moderator and creator of the page, Siobhan Barrett, contacted me later to express that she was did not know that so much art was getting posted by the various moderators without artistic attribution. She then said she would take down as much uncredited art from her page as she could find. To her credit, I have noticed an uptick in artist attribution on the page and several uncredited pieces have been taken down.

It should be noted that several other page moderators refused to comment.

But what does it all mean?

Here's the thing: You can like and share an image you find beautiful, and while you're committing some copyright infringement, you're not going to get in trouble. The problem comes when your audience is large enough that you might actually be affecting the creator's profit. They should be paid for their work, or, in the case of social media, be given the chance to be paid for their work. 

Links to the artist's online shop or web presence are a great way to shop and are often applauded by photographers, artists, etc. who would very much love the traffic. My own Hipster Halloween greeting cards were featured on the Pagan Humor page with full artist attribution and a link to my Etsy shop. (Something they do quite often when and where possible.) 

And, the flip side - and reason I asked the moderators of the pages I spoke with whether they had Etsy shops of their own - is that while your page may not make a profit, you might be linking to other businesses that did not create the work in question. 

An example: I find a painting of a toad with a crown on its head. I make a meme about turning ex-boyfriends into toads and post it to my page that has 10,000 likes. I don't credit the original creator of the painting, but I do enjoy increased traffic to my page because of the likes and shares the meme gets. I then post an ad for my friend's soap making business, which stands to benefit greatly from my original 10,000 page viewers plus the increased traffic the toad prince meme is getting me. By association, the toad prince meme is giving profit to my friend's soap making business...and the original artist has lost out on potential profits. 

That is the reason why sharing an artist's work on a public page, website, or blog is wrong. Because whether you're promoting your own business or someone else's, you cannot benefit from a third party's work without them getting some benefit as well. 

My Hipster Witch greeting card shouldn't be giving your friend's soap business extra traffic without my own website getting equal traffic opportunity. 

And that's the point here. We should be giving people the chance to decide whether they want to purchase the work. Sure, not every single one of the people who like a page are going to purchase something, but out of 10,000, 100,000, or over 200,000 people that will potentially see a painting or a book excerpt or a piece of music, are we really saying not one of them would be interested in spending $10 on a CD or print or book? 

What can you do?

Call out a page whenever you see it posting work without attribution. Find the artist and post links yourself. It really does take less than a second. It's easy, and you'll be doing the artist a favor. 

If a website, blog, or social media presence seems to continue without regard to copyright infringement, then contact the respective social media site and report them. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. all have the ability to do something about copyright infringement if you report it. 

It is important to note, however, that quite often only the copyright holder (IE. the creator, author, artist, etc.) can file a formal complaint of copyright infringement. In that case, do what Renee did and email the artist a link to the infringed material. They will probably want to handle it, as it is lost revenue for them. 

And, possibly, unlike pages that benefit from copyright infringement. If you see businesses being advertised on those pages, email them and ask them whether they want the increased traffic to their website coming at the cost of lost profits to someone else. 

It's an important issue. It's a murky issue. There are a lot of kinks to be worked, a lot more legislation to pass, and nothing but time to wait and see what the future of copyright infringement will look like online. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. Thank you!!! I love this.. And no matter what, I will continue to check on pages I see sharing work w/o giving proper credit!

  2. This was such a wonderful article!!! I love to give credit to artists and often call on pages to find the name of artists in uncredited posts. I will continue to be more diligent. When so many artists and small businesses are trying to make their way on Facebook, and so many emphasize supporting them, it makes me wonder WHY so many don't keep tabs on this. Thanks again for a great read!

  3. One comment I have to raise addresses the licensing of copyright that you mentioned in Paragraph 8. It is not necessarily correct to say that, to license copyrighted work a user must pay. In most cases, yes the user does have to pay (Whenever you watch Friends on TV, it is paid for by the broadcast/cable outlet, or by you if you own it on DVD/Blu-Ray or rent it through Netflix or a similar service.) Some artists give their work away. I have free music from Tenpenny Joke and Beltaine's Fire, and it's legal for me to have these free copies because the artists were giving these copies away.

    Of course, this also brings up the question of library property. If I check out a CD from the library and rip it to my computer, is that fair use? Or did I violate copyright enough to actually break the law? Thoughts?

    1. Hello Anonymous,

      From what I understand, you are correct as far as payment goes. However, realize that the different types of licenses that exist are the reason why some must be paid for and others not. I linked earlier in the article to the Creative Commons website. One can release a song under a Creative Commons no derivatives no attribution license, which means you still retain your copyright, but allow people to post your unaltered work without your consent. The key is that the work cannot be altered without your consent and must contain the full original work, usually containing the copyright information.

      Library property is the property of the library. You are renting something, but you do not own it. If you rip a DVD or CD or scan a book into your computer as a PDF, you are technically breaking copyright. However, you will likely not ever have an issue unless you then begin to post that online for the world to share.

      It is not fair use, as you are not using it as commentary or parody or any of the other reasons. And, you also didn't purchase it, so it has affected the artist's dissemination and sale of that product.

      Again, whether you'll be prosecuted is a different story. Likely not, as you're keeping an illegally obtained copy for yourself alone.


  4. What an excellent piece! I found your blog via the Pagans Against Plagiarism group on Facebook. I want to reblog this far and wide because the more we educate the so-called Pagan Community about this, the better we will become on fighting it!

    I will be linking to this via several other FB groups that I moderate / manage, etc. Bravo!!

  5. Wonderful and spot on. Thank you

  6. Well-worded. I wish more of the blogs on this issue were this concise. As we spoke about in email, so many of us are guilty of this very thing in some way or another. Some only commit copyright infringement when it's against the so-called "evil" corporations, which they see as justified. Others just don't care at all. It's definitely a big issue with the emergence of Facebook but, coming from the advertising industry as I do, it's always been an issue with me. That said, I think there's a way to handle it. Some of these issues can easily spin into Witch hunts against specific people that do not allow for the process of redemption. I often find that a kind word and a little cajoling can get the job done. Gods know I can razor tongue with the best of them, as you've pointed out, but I like to at least try to find reason in these things first. I did not like how some of these recent things went down but I'm glad that more reasonable views like yours and Dorothy Morrison's prevailed and this began to be focussed more on the issue than on individuals. I think all most people need is coaching. For the few that this doesn't work for, well, a good DMCA letter can't hurt. Believe me, they work ... and well.

    1. Well Said Christian. Getting to the heart of errors made and fixed should always be the goal. For many years now I've found my own artwork used somewhere with no credit to me. The internet is a huge and wild place. lol I write them and ask for credit. But it happens a lot really. After all these years - there are Still people who do not realize to use another's work is wrong. They figure if it's on the internet it is free. Simple. Not simple at all. we handle it is what matters IMHO
      cheers - Sabrina The Ink Witch

  7. Great info and nicely done!

    I take exception with one thing. As a person on a budget, I have discovered those nickle and dime purchases to add up significantly at the end of the month. So, I have to take exception with "self policing" sites only going after people who are have a big following or a business.

    My motto is: the little guy is just as guilty at the end of the day.

    The reason why people do not go after the little guy is the result of the almighty dollar and resulting drama/impact. Morality and ethics are thrown out the window and his sins are absolved in favor other benefits.

    I find picking on one set of people because of certain traits discriminating.

    Also, little guys turn into big guys.

    If there are groups that are going to police the internet, they should police everyone. If they promote not befriending, not following or not purchasing from one, they should from all guilty parties.

    The idea that the little guy is exempt because his crimes are not that big of deal compared to others is just plain wrong.

    So, who is going to start the big brother organization to police us all? What will the punishment be for non-compliance? How do we hold almost everyone accountable? Shut down the internet? Whose accounts get burned at the stake?

    My vote is with education and self advocating. Artists need to take care of their security and security breeches.... not self appointed internet pagan police.

    Thanks for the article!



  8. Well said. I am just about to open an etsy shop to sell my own art.

    While I have always been firm in buying books/movies/games (the only exemption being the fan-subs I downloaded while waiting for the box set to be released here) I have a close friend that I have known for years and when I talk about buying oh let's say a book, he says but thats what the internet is for.

  9. Awesome article. Thank you for the work you put into this!

    1. An unintended consequence of this issue I haven't seen mentioned yet: I've been thinking since I read this, for my own personal blogging, it may be easier (and more fun) to create my own images out of my own art or photographs, than to risk potential copyright issues or simply feeling like poo because I may be taking away from the original artist. And on that line of thinking, it would probably enhance the blog, because I'd be putting more "me" into my personal ramblings with my own images to go with 'em. So, the whole issue is sparking creativity and originality! Win-win! :D

  10. Dorothy Morrison is on the war path right now. Please check her Facebook page,


  11. I must admit I've been guilty of "borrowing images" but am trying to do better at it. Google Image Search does make this a lot easier now. I find that so many people just aren't aware of how easy it is to find the original artist now.

  12. man just give up people always use others stuff ... get over it my pictures get used all the time.. and i dont care

    1. Mr or Ms Anonymous I won't be giving up or getting over it. I'm glad that your images are used all the time and that you don't care, but this is actually a very serious issue. There are legal, moral, and financial ramifications for people, people that depend on their copyright and royalties to pay bills, send their kids through college, and keep a roof over their head. It might not be a big deal for you, but it is still a big deal.


  13. Good article - a few notes you might find useful (Pagan librarian, geek, and I've been on both sides of Digital Millenium Copyright Act issues: dealing with managing reports for an online sites and helping people file reports with sites for violations.)

    1) Fair Use is something that's decided on a case by case basis in the court system: the person doing it can make some guesses about whether a use is likely to be okay (that's where the 250 word idea comes from) But there have been cases that decided a sentence was too much (because it was the 'core' of the work) and all sorts of other things.

    Basically, Fair Use is a possible defence, not a "Follow this, and you'll be all right." (There are also somewhat broader options for people using material in teaching settings - that doesn't have to be formal education, but it does generally need to be limited audience. Wide-open post to the online world wouldn't count, but a password-protected site for students in, say, a Wicca 101 class would likely fall under the educational provisions.)

    2) For people in the US, or for US based sites, the relevant law is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act - it has some specific requirements about who can report, and how the report works. Some sites are much better at explaining what's necessary than others, unfortunately.

    3) Neverland is a particularly complicated copyright case, as it turns out. (The UK rites were granted to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, and Parliment granted an exception in 1988, but it's in the public domain in the US. has a longer explanation.)

    For people interested in keeping up on copyright issues, one of the blogs I really like for end-user-friendly explanations is from Nancy Sims, who is the copyright librarian at the University of Minnesota. That's at . The 'copyright in your personal life' that's a recent post is good overview of a bunch of issues.

    I've also had some draft notes on copyright for Pagans (and did a workshop on it for Paganicon two years ago) that I'll see if I can wrangle into coherence in the next day or two. If so, I'll drop a note here. (Copyright is very complicated. Even for people who study it all the time.)

    1. Hey there!

      1) Thanks for this! You're absolutely right. Fair Use isn't a hard and fast rule, sort of like legally defining vulgarity. You can't necessarily write down on paper what it is, but you know it when you see it.

      2) I think the DMCA is mentioned in the article, definitely the bit regarding the California Dental Association. But, thank you for the direct mention!

      3) I knew as soon as I typed it that Neverland was a horrible example, but I trudged on. This article took me over a week to write and research, and I did NOT want to hit the backspace key. But, yes, any other literary example would have been better.


    2. I've got more info up now at for the curious - it includes links to a lot of the most likely resources.

  14. Here's a tip for Witchy types doing things associated with the moon... all NASA moon photos are public domain! SO there's nev er a need to "borrow" someone else's moon picture...

  15. Excellent piece. Thank you.

    Brigid Manning-Hamilton

  16. Excellent article, thank you. Sending others here for what is now my go-to explanation to others on copyright.

  17. I think it's highly important to mention that- no- not everything can be copyrighted just because it's a creative work and you made it. There's also other stipulations- such as one part of a whole work being capable of copyright, but not another part of it (take Fonts, for example. You can't copyright the typeface (or pictographical image of the font), but you can copyright the actual font file itself. You can write and copyright a book of spells, but you can't necessarily always copyright the spells themselves. You can't copyright a tarot spread, but you can copyright a digital or physical image of the spread.

    Then there's also the fact that while (almost) every creative work is granted a bare basic copyright (which protects your work only up to a 20% change of the material), you still have to directly register your creative work with the local government in order to actually be able to legally do anything. In other words, yeah. You have a copyright, but it's useless. You have to go actually purchase a copyright and register your creative work with the federal government in order to have any actual legal authority over the piece. So if you're not actually registering your creative works, you don't have much of a leg to stand on... So be smart and actually go register your creative works and get legal copyrights.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. There is a grupe called the American Council of witches pagans and friends that sent pagans against plagiarism site to me because I want to build up my own counsel the only thing is my elders we run the original Council of witches and they were not allowed to use the name American Council of witches how do I report this I just want to get the site taken down because it's a disgrace to all pagans because they do not help one of them

  20. There is a grupe called the American Council of witches pagans and friends that sent pagans against plagiarism site to me because I want to build up my own counsel the only thing is my elders we run the original Council of witches and they were not allowed to use the name American Council of witches how do I report this I just want to get the site taken down because it's a disgrace to all pagans because they do not help one of them

  21. Great article ,how ever sorry to tell the group pagans against plagiarism ,Is not just pagans who want to help stop plagiarism. Its a cover for a hate group that changed to this idea ,because they knew they could get more members and people on there side if they looked like they where being socially conscious.there original group was was pagans against weak pagans. Calling people who disagree with them or they find they dislike . Fluffy bunnies. No one in the pagan community condones this. Or really supports that group ,at least the ones that know what it's really about. We don't condone plagiarism either. And try to stop as much as we can. I just thought I'd give you a heads up . Do not quote them .pagans against plagiarism is not a great any one wants to be associated with. Rev High Priestess Char Norton M.W.R. of Star coven of wicca and American council of witches,pagans,and friends

  22. Great article ,how ever sorry to tell the group pagans against plagiarism ,Is not just pagans who want to help stop plagiarism. Its a cover for a hate group that changed to this idea ,because they knew they could get more members and people on there side if they looked like they where being socially conscious.there original group was was pagans against weak pagans. Calling people who disagree with them or they find they dislike . Fluffy bunnies. No one in the pagan community condones this. Or really supports that group ,at least the ones that know what it's really about. We don't condone plagiarism either. And try to stop as much as we can. I just thought I'd give you a heads up . Do not quote them .pagans against plagiarism is not a great any one wants to be associated with. Rev High Priestess Char Norton M.W.R. of Star coven of wicca and American council of witches,pagans,and friends

  23. It become quickly very obvious that you can get really tied down if you get working on alot of social network marketing places at once.
    Social Network

  24. With the wide reach from the web today, music promotion has turned into a little simpler than before.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts