Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pagan bloggers, beware: intellectual property theft in progress

Earlier this week, Jason Pitzl-Waters posted a warning to Facebook about a Facebook group called Blackraven Coven, whose creator and main author/poster, Bram Darkraven, who says she's from Wiltshire, UK, was stealing Pagan authors' copyrighted material and posting it as her own, with her own copyright and copyright date.  T. Thorn Coyle soon followed with a similar warning. 

In case you've ever been scathed by me for passing stuff on without verification, I verified with Jason, Thorn, M. Macha NightMare/Aline O'Brien... and by going to the group itself.  (That was an education.) 

A couple folks in the group asked her to  explain herself.  At first it looked like she might be compiling things from different sources without proper citation.  Then her posts to the discussion forum of the group became wholesale cut-and-pastes of other people's blog posts and web pages, but again with her own copyright and copyright date. 

The she lifted "Ruminations on Pagan 'Clergy'" from the Broomstick Chronicles by Aline O'Brien / M. Macha NightMare -- with certain very notable exceptions that obviously were made to take the original author out of it:
  • she changed the date she said she originally wrote it to an earlier date than the date Aline said she originally wrote it; 
  • she removed the middle sentences of the first paragraph about being the Chair of the Public Ministry Department at Cherry Hill Seminary; 
  • she added her own copyright date again.  

Those changes were no accidents of sloppy scholarship.

More people in the group asked her to explain herself.  She deleted their posts and blocked them from the group.  

But wait, there's more: when confronted by Aline Macha about stealing the work, she insisted again that she wrote it, not Aline Macha

Folks continue to monitor to see if she continues to steal other authors' work.  Some of them have been well-known, like Aline Macha; some have been more obscure webspinners and bloggers; one was even Edgar Allen Poe (!). 

There's a process to report theft of intellectual property to Facebook.  The only person who can make the report is the owner of the intellectual property. 

However, if the offender removes the violation, Facebook considers the matter resolved. 

So if someone steals your intellectual property and you complain, and the thief takes it down but then re-posts it... or keeps someone else's stolen property up... the owners of the intellectual property are stuck. 

As you can see, Facebook's response has been lukewarm at best. 

No matter what excuses people come up with for stealing other people's work, doing so is a violation of international copyright law and of Craft law.  There's no way around that.  The Craft teaches co-operation; it also teaches, through the Law of Threefold Return, what happens to thieves (and to everyone, actually). 

Variations I've heard on the Law of Threefold Return include: Your actions will come back to you threefold; at least threefold; or three times three.  

Either way, you'll get what's coming to you.  Natural law does that. 

1 comment:

cymraes said...

This does not surprise me one bit - FB are useless and plagiarism is rife there! I my self have had work stolen and yes, once it's removed FB think it's finished!

For more on FB and plagiarism in the Pagan community see my blog at:
where, with your permission, I would like to link to your post here.

Many thanks for bringing this huge problem to the communities attention - many just don't speak out about it enough imho :o/

Lesley aka Cymraes