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Deep Thoughts from a Book Pirate

This post was written by Elysia
on January 7, 2012 | Comments (41)

On Thursday I blogged about book piracy, prompted in part by a particularly egregious offender. The website in question had 32 of our books and tons of other publishers’ books available for download, in full, as well as pages upon pages of spells, rituals, poems, songs, recipes, and more, culled from scores of books, without our authorization (and it seems, without the authorization of several other publishers as well). Llewellyn issued a DMCA takedown notice, I wrote a blog post, it went viral (5,000 hits in a 24-hour span, thanks to authors and other friends), and the website owner finally got the message and agreed to take down the material in question.

Llewellyn had written to this website owner before, and had gotten no response. Now, scores of angry authors, publishers, and readers were suddenly sending her messages, including a Llewellyn author I know quite well, Deborah Blake, who was unaccountably sweet with her. Deborah forwarded me the website owner’s response – which was the first we had ever heard from her, in her own words! At that point I also responded to her, directed her to my blog post so she could understand our concerns, and our permissions manager followed up with yet another email explaining her legally precarious situation, and what was within the bounds of the law, and what was not. (Aside from the books which she had removed by then.)

And then, tonight this woman had the nerve to post a long-winded comment to my blog, trying to justify her actions. I did not approve it because I did not want it to pass by without commentary, nor did I want to drive any more traffic (positive or negative) to her website.

I will continue to refrain from publishing her name here, but here is her entire post (scout’s honor!), with my comments interspersed. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that if you don’t understand copyright law, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t post it if you’re in doubt. If you don’t understand the law, ask somebody. And once it’s been explained to you, don’t cry about it. Just make the changes and move on. Anyway, here goes…and by the way, [sic] to all. I haven’t copy edited her at all.

Ever copied a spell or ritual into your BOS? You’re in violation of copyright. Ever copy and paste a spell or prayer to your computer for a ritual? Oops, you’re in violation of copyright. Did you print off that article to share with your coven? Copyright violation! Did you read and send a spell to a friend? Join a yahoo group that sends out spells? Copyright violations everywhere!

And here we have fundamental flaw number one. If you’re copying a spell into your own Book of Shadows for your own purposes, that’s fine. If you’re photocopying a couple pages of a book, that’s fine. (Although at FedEx Kinko’s, they won’t photocopy things for you anymore if you’re not the copyright owner. That’s how serious this is.) But I fail to see how copying a page or a spell for your own personal use is in ANY way synonymous or even comparable to the wholesale ripping off of entire books.

You know what, I agree, authors should be paid for their work and a copyright is a good thing. I apologize to all I may have harmed for all my copyright violations.

If you think that authors should be paid for their work and copyright is a good thing, then we’re done here. Yet apparently, we’re not done, because this woman does not truly believe the words she just wrote. Read on…

You see, just so everyone here is on the same page, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s my website currently being lamblasted here.

A sneaking suspicion? I emailed you the link myself! Apparently one can never be too obvious with this woman.

If you want to visit my website, do so quickly, since it’s coming down within the month. There are probably a 1000 or so pages, so act quickly if you’re looking for information.

I respect copyright – so quick! Download as much of my pirated stuff as possible before I’m yanked off the air!

The reason it’s coming down is simple. I screwed up with the copyrights. Not the modern books, that’s new. But Llewellyn asked me to remove something before. I thought I had done as they requested, but it turned out, I didn’t. I made the changes to the right page, but the wrong file and I didn’t check it. My site is huge and not database driven, each page something I have to manually go into and change. Me and me alone. Also, I was on two computers, using different files. I know better, it was bad website management. It was a mistake. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. By taking the site down, I’m making sure of it. While we’re on the subject of Llewellyn, lets give them some credit for being reasonably flexible.

This is interesting. She thought she had done as we requested, which was to remove 32 copyrighted books from her website. Yet they were still there a month later. Oopsy? That doesn’t cut it. You have two computers? Who cares. You have a huge site that is fully manual? That’s your own fault for posting so many ripped off pieces of work from other authors, NONE of which are in your own words.

I also think its a sad loss of something that helped a whole lot of people. In my opinion, the idea of Wiccan education suffered a great loss.

This is where she starts acting like the Helen Keller or the Mother Teresa of Pagan education. Like her website is going to teach thousands of bright young Wiccans… because why? We’re underground? The knowledge is simply not available or accessible anywhere else? There aren’t intelligent, well-rounded, ethical teachers all over the internet who write lessons in their own words, without copying and pasting other people’s works?

I was willing to make the changes needed. I was willing to make the compromises.

Then why didn’t she?

But, I realized, I couldn’t make the promise it wouldn’t happen again. How could I? And, quite frankly, I have no intention of reliving the nightmare I’ve found myself in.

She couldn’t promise she wouldn’t accidentally upload entire, pirated books again. And by the way, I have no sympathy for this whole nightmare. She had been warned before.

You wouldn’t believe the names I’ve been called via email and on blogs. I don’t make a single dime off the website, so driving or not driving traffic makes no difference to me. I do pay a significant amount of money out of my own pocket for a site of that size. This firestorm is just not worth it to me to maintain the website.

You know who else pays money out of their own pockets for websites? Authors.

I wrote a letter, which I sent to a wide variety of folks, including the authors and publishers who felt they were harmed by my actions. Some accepted my heartfelt apology for my mistake. Some read the letter and offered genuinely useful suggestions and information, allowing me to understand copyright law and my options in something that approximated English.

If our previous communications with you were not in English, I do apologize. As far as I’m aware that’s the only language our permissions manager speaks, but I could be wrong. If you’d needed further explanation or clarification, let me refer you to the “reply” button of your email service.

Letter begins:

Thank you for your email. I always appreciate hearing the opinions of my readers and others. I certainly can see your point and I respect it. The webpage you are referring to has been removed.

Please allow me to explain my thoughts on the subject briefly.

First, I do hope you took the opportunity to review the remainder of the website as a whole. You will notice that there are many, many articles written over the span of several decades. All of them, wherever possible, provide author credit, link backs to where I got the information and copyright information when attached to an article. It has never been my intention to claim credit for that which I did not create.

The issue is not simply about giving credit. It’s more than obvious that you did not write all this material, and for that, I can honestly thank you. I can’t even begin to tell you how many websites a simple Scott Cunningham or Dorothy Morrison spell will show up on, with no attribution given whatsoever. However, just because you’re giving attribution does not make it legal. This is why there is a copyright disclaimer in the front of each and every book that says you must have permission from the publisher for further reproduction, internet included. That part is in plain English.

 

This is what a copyright notice looks like. It's in English.

Secondly, you might have also noticed that some of these links are no longer viable. I have lost a great deal of information simply by keeping a favorites link and going back to find important information gone because the site is no longer maintained. That’s why I always download and link.

Thirdly you may not be aware of the sincere difficulties those of us who are both solitary AND living in a deeply religious area, such as Lynchburg , VA for myself, function under. I didn’t buy books, or jewelry or magazines or anything else because I didn’t dare. I have been shot at, physically and verbally threatened and I live daily with the knowledge that were my family to find out my religion, I would be banned from seeing them and from contact with my cousins, who I love very much. It is quite difficult to learn about my religion under those circumstances.

We at Llewellyn, and our authors, are more than aware of the dangers and difficulties of living a closeted Pagan life in a small town, rural community, or part of the country that doesn’t care for our kind, and I am truly sorry for your trials and tribulations. That’s why we even published a book called The Small-Town Pagan’s Survival Guide. That book offers a wealth of ideas on how to practice your faith under the radar, or how to share it with others. The author of that book, may she rest in peace, even bought a complete altar set-up at a WalMart just to prove her point that one can practice Paganism anywhere. Even if you are in the sticks, you have internet in the privacy of your home. On the internet you can order books and your neighbors will be none the wiser when it shows up on your doorstep in a brown box. You can even download books – legally. Where and how you live is no excuse for pirating.

Fourth, when in college, I still look back in wincing pain as I remember days of ramen noodles and five solid weeks of KFC chicken because my friend next door was a manager and brought home all the chicken at the end of the day for us to eat. Ugh. Book purchases outside of textbooks were a ridiculous idea. Please note that I am not saying that copyright violations are an acceptable excuse, I am raising a point. How shall I educate the poor, the disenfranchised, without the books?

Please just stop. Just because you ate Ramen and KFC does not make you Mother Teresa. It does not confer a mantle of holiness upon your shoulders that frees you to distribute copyrighted materials to poor, disenfranchised people for the rest of your life. It doesn’t! How shall you educate them? In your own words, my dear! Please refer back to my original post and give a special reading to comment # 15 from Donald Michael Kraig. To wit, “Help set information free by writing the information in your own words. Show your originality and creativity.” If you’ve been a practicing Wiccan for all these years and still can’t manage to write your own ritual to share with your students, then I truly feel sorry for both you and them.

Fifth, when I finally moved to Northern VA and married an open minded man, I attended my first coven groups. We sang many wonderful songs. The HPS of the evening possessed only a few crude mimeograph copies of the lyrics, not even the musical copy. I kept those two pages for many years, but time killed my memory and I did not know how to sing them. I could not teach my coven to sing them. At long last, I learned that the lyrics came from Starhawk’s lovely albums, still available, and A Circle of Women, which was no longer published. This is among the many reasons I am so adamant about knowing and remembering who created it. There are so many things lost to us now because our American Wiccan founders, the early singers and writers, could not pass the information widely enough to survive.

Thank goodness we are now living in the information age and this kind of thing will become a rare occurrence. But you are not responsible for enshrining that information yourself. Just because you want to hold onto something does not mean you also have to post it freely on your website so everyone can download it.

My final point is this. My actions are based strictly on my own experiences as a Wiccan of 20 years. I firmly believe in the Wiccan Rede. I did not intend to harm anyone, I give you my word. Under NO circumstances did I intend to steal from anyone.

Which still doesn’t explain why all the files weren’t removed immediately upon first notification…

My intent was and remains the goal of education for Wiccans today and to teach Wiccans of the future their past as it revolves around us and those who preceded us. Today I own a library containing many of the books I posted, and many more I have not. My coven members have always had access to it; indeed, anyone interested is welcome to what is on my shelves. But unfortunately, that is only for those local to me.

Fortunately she is not the only Wiccan in America. There are others, all over the country and the world, that are willing to help teach newcomers, to lend them some books from their personal collections, to offer them a helping hand. And, fortunately, there are plenty of respectable websites offering free and legal content as well.

I am sure you understand the points I am making. So I will ask the question of you that I am asking of everyone this evening. It has no easy answer. If those like Starhawk, Gerald Gardner and many many others had not recognized the value of educating others BROADLY, around the world, about our religion, how would Wicca grow?

Wait… she did NOT just compare herself to Starhawk and Gardner, did she?!

How will it grow into the future? Uniquely lacking a gathering place, unsafe to announce our religion aloud even here in America , I ask you once again. How shall I educate without the books? Surely somewhere, there is compromise.

How shall she educate without the books? No one is asking her to. All we are asking is fair pay for our work – and I say that on behalf of authors, publishers, and booksellers as well. She might also like to talk with other Wiccan teachers around the country who are managing to do the Great Work just fine without distributing files without authorization.

Letter ends.

I’ll post my letter here in the hopes of generating some sort of useful discussion. After all, the problem is much larger than is being appreciated right at this moment.

What ARE you going to do with all the blogs and covens walking around with articles and spells written down, saved on hard drives etc.?

Good point. There is nothing we can do about people with our books, articles, annuals, spells, recipes, chants, etc. kept on their hard drive, or written in their Book of Shadows, lovingly copied from a well-used book. And I’m OK with that, and probably most authors would be, too. But what we can do is stop websites from the wholesale theft of our copyrighted materials. These are not books that are lost to the sands of time – these are books anyone can legally download through Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple, etc…or ordered in the print form if it has not yet been digitized. It’s not the end of the world. This is not just a tidbit or two… it is serious business. I hope she can recognize that by now, but I think the point is lost on her.

How will you eliminate the thousands of bit torrents with these books in them? The many websites like mine?

The conflicting information, such as one producer saying POST NOTHING while another says its ok for me to keep a version for me personally, on my hard drive, just not to give it out? Llewellyn themselves says it’s ok to post up to 250 words before getting their permission. Is that per spell? Per page? Per website? How do you plan to shut individuals like me down when the many various people involved in the problem can’t even explain the copyright law to me in the same way?

Another good point. All publishers have different limits as to what they’ll permit. A conscientious web operator would find out what those limits are and try to stick to them. A halfway intelligent web operator who made a mistake would abide by those limits after having been reprimanded once or twice. And anyone who has any measure of sustained concentration would eventually be able to decipher Llewellyn’s 250-word rule, which was sent to her again today. This is what our permissions manager emailed to her and copied me on:

“You can use up to 250 words (except for spells) from any one of our books at any one time without further permission, with proper attribution of the work: title, author, publisher, and a link to purchase the book at Llewellyn.com. You may post 250 words from up to six books at a time, but total posted at any one time must not exceed six titles. You must remove material from a title already posted to keep the total at six”.

Why would she ever think that was “per spell?” Especially when the next line of this email was “Posting of spells is not allowed. Posting information from our annuals is not allowed without permission.”

How hard to do you think you’ll yell at Barnes and Noble for their Nook, which allows people to LEND out books for which one person paid, but the Lendee did not? Where’s the line here?

The line is that Barnes and Noble paid us money for that. And that we are perfectly aware of the lending functionality of their devices. It is not the same as posting it for a million people to download all at once. Again, please return to my previous post and see the myth “It’s the same as borrowing a book from a library, or from a friend.”

And don’t give me that “go to the library” crap. Most small town libraries don’t carry books like these. Most small bookstores are going out of buisness. My occult store did. Borders is out of buisness. Have you tried recently to review Barnes and Nobles selection of WICCAN books? Barely more than a shelf not even a bookshelf. In my small hometown, do I plan on reading Wiccan books in the BN Cafe out in the open while I take notes? Are you KIDDING? But their Christian stuff takes up five bookshelves. I counted.

I don’t care, because obviously you’re connected to the Internet. Bookstores live there too, you know.

Everything I had on my website I got online first.

So? As the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.

I didn’t type or scan anything. Just copy, paste or download. That’s not intended as an excuse, it’s a fact. A symptom of the real problem. In the world of E everything, you no longer control your copyrights.

Actually, we do. And as long as people respected them, which you claim you do, we’d have no problem. Since you don’t, we send takedown notices and take legal action instead. We do control our copyrights, even though it is becoming increasingly difficult. Make no mistake of that.

I guess one of the reasons I have even bothered to post twice now about piracy (which is very old news) is that I have a sincere hope that at least our niche, spiritual community, unlike the masses of nameless Internet surfers downloading Nickelback, will see the value, ethics, and repercussions involved in this situation, and rise above others. I hope that Pagans, Wiccans and magicians of all stripes will fully support our small and fledgling community. I hope that Pagans, Wiccans, and magicians actually have superior ethics to others, guided by the Rede and the threefold law of karmic return. That is really the whole reason I am writing this post.

It’s not possible. Like sex, the kitty is out out of the burlap.

Ha ha hahahahahaha hahah haahahaha hahahah! Gasp. And meow.

You got me. You shut me down. I would have prefered you educated me, but only one of the many authors/publishers offered that. I’m grateful to them. But I’m one person.

You would have preferred we educated you? How about you take responsibility for your own actions and educate yourself? How about you ask questions the next time a publisher tells you to take down material and you somehow can’t get that request through your head? I’m sorry, but my patience is wearing thin now. It’s not our responsibility to educate you, although with my previous post I sincerely hope I’ve educated many, or at least made them pause to think about the consequences of their actions.

After all this, someday, you might meet me again. You might not. But rest assured, should you be suffering under the belief that I haven’t learned my lesson about posting copyrights, I HAVE.

WELL THANK GODS.

In fact, I know I made more mistakes than just the mistake of copyright infringement here. I’ll be sure to learn from them all. The insults from people who don’t know me and weren’t an author or publisher to whom my apologies were deserved felt breathtaking in their cruelty and crudeness. The kindness of strangers who supported me, or forgave me after I apologized for wronging them, will always be cherished.

I apologize for the criticisms and insults you’ve received from complete strangers. I’ve received quite a few myself today, just by standing up for authors’ rights. Some people truly feel we have no right to charge for this knowledge. Knowledge is free. But the end product of years of toil is not free. Learn from it, and pass on the knowledge in your own words if you’re brave enough to do so. If the best you can do is pass on the words of the masters, then give them due respect by expecting yourself and your students to pay them for their efforts.

Thank you.

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Deborah Blake
on January 7th, 2012 @ 11:53 am

I think it is interesting how she keeps switching back and forth from her so-called “apology” to basically saying she is only taking down the books because so many people yelled at her at the same time. I know I heard from a number of my fellow authors saying that they (not just Llewellyn) had contacted her many times in the past to tell her she was in violation of copyright law and asking her to take down their books. Which she never did until now. (And the articles are still there. If you’re going to shut down your website over this, why not do it right away?)

Frankly, there is more “poor me” and “ooh, you’re big mean people” than there is true apology in her message.

I’m going to link to this article with the letter she sent to me, and my response, in case anyone is curious.

As always, Elysia, you are well-spoken and right on target. Kudos. And many thanks from me (and, I’m sure, other Pagan authors) for standing up for our rights. You rock.

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#2 
Written By Tabatha Cicero
on January 7th, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

Hi Elysia,

Another great post. I love how angry authors, publishers and readers, working together, were able to take stolen material from this web-site down. It would be great if there were some e-list that could notify all of us to the existence of similar webs sites. Working together, maybe we could get more of them taken down.

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#3 
Written By Elysia
on January 7th, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

Thanks, Tabatha! We are working on getting a link up on our site to report piracy. But an independent e-list would be even better, because obviously not ALL magical books being pirated are Llewellyn’s.

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#4 
Written By Scott
on January 7th, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

Wow.

“Thirdly you may not be aware of the sincere difficulties those of us who are both solitary AND living in a deeply religious area, such as Lynchburg , VA for myself, function under..”

buy online? Um… Order by magazine? Drive to the next city?

excuses excuses. this one really gets me fired up.

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#5 
Written By Michael Slater
on January 7th, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

The pen is mightier than the sword,
wield it responsibly,
We have pirates, witches, and goblins,
The unnamed is apparently a goblin pirate,
she be goblin up all the good books
and piratin them off as her own.
If she does not change her ways,
I will throw an improper curse upon her,
which will only increase with every scan.
and should that fall short,
I will call Hrodvitnir, who will know well
the path of a Bolverk

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#6 
Written By Shae
on January 7th, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

Apparently she just used that letter as a copy/paste..Seems to be her thing I guess because it is identical to the one she sent me after I emailed her from her site to tell her she was violating copyright laws. I blogged about it and posted her entire letter to me. I cannot believe that she tries to justify her actions. Ridiculous

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#7 
Written By Marcie
on January 7th, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

Well sadly even if she closes her site she will likely be back up and running on another name soon after. People like this seem to think they can hide online…we’ll find her when she does.
Its really not difficult to simply ask to use something and follow the authors request. I have done this many times.
Something else I see online is alot of people assuming things are public domain when they are not always in that status. Simply ask not a difficult task and when they say no you just move on…

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#8 
Written By Dana
on January 7th, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

I feel outraged by this pirate’s actions and her attitudes, but I admit I feel somewhat conflicted by this issue of piracy.

We know that human beings have evolved an instinctual drive to mimic and copy. If we didn’t have that drive, we would have no language and no culture. (See Jane Goodall’s writing on mimicry and culture in primate communities.)

Luckily, most of us realize we need to temper our desire to copy and share when we see we are in danger of being on the wrong side of the law. This pirate didn’t temper her desire, and shame on her for that.

I don’t like what this pirate did. But I like the Pirate Party in Sweden, because they’re in favor of sticking it to “the man”. Does anybody else feel that way? Can a person be in favor of authority and anti-authority at the same time?

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#9 
Written By S. Reisner
on January 7th, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

Thank you so much for your posts about this. I am an author and a very tiny publisher of niche magick books. We have a huge piracy problem that has cost our small publishing house at least 35-40% of sales. It hasn’t put us out of business yet, but it could.

I think far too many people are uneducated about who pirating really hurts. They have no stake in the game so it’s no skin off their back. But if it was their paycheck (albeit small) — they’d get it. I don’t make a lot writing these books, but I make enough to pay my electric bill and buy groceries every month. That’s pretty huge.

I’ve heard all the arguments including that I have an obligation to give my books away for free. I’ve also been accused of writing for money, because how dare I make money from writing despite the fact that I work 80 hours a week to everyone else’s 40. And yet these same people who have chastised me for charging for my books have told me outright that they wouldn’t work for free.

I do hope people will stop seeing writing books as a hobby and stop thinking that authors, artists, and editors should work for free. We’re people with real bills too. We have families to take care of, too. Just because we write and publish books and charge for it doesn’t mean we’re doing it “just for the money” but rather we think our time and knowledge and WORK is worth something.

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#10 
Written By Crystal
on January 8th, 2012 @ 8:30 am

This post, and it’s predecesor, had me thinking. I’m a previously solitary, who has recently initiated into a local, small tradition. I’m not a wealthy person, but I still save my pennies and go buy the books I need or want. But your posts and the comments to them left me with a question:
I’m currently borrowing a book from one of my coven-sisters. Since it is her book and I have promised to return it in the same condition she lent it to me, I wanted to take notes as there is some really good information. Alas, my handwriting is atrocious and so I’m typing my notes… I do believe the book was published by Llewellyn – so my question is this: If I’m typing notes, in my own words, with the intention of printing ONE COPY for my own personal BOS, is that ok? Or is that an infringement of your copywrite? I’m only asking to educate myself and because I do not wish to participiate in stealing of any kind. I’d be greatful for any comments/feedback or communication about this. :) Many thanks for the great information you do provide for free, as well as the many MANY books you have out there for us to purchase and learn from!

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#11 
Written By Tabatha Cicero
on January 8th, 2012 @ 9:10 am

It is so important for authors/artists to make their views known on this. I’ve actually had intelligent people tell me that, because our books are being pirated via bit torrent, it shows that “we have made it into the big leagues! People really want our books!” They even offered to keep re-seeding our books in bit torrent to keep them available. AND THESE ARE MY FRIENDS!!!

Beyond the fact that people are downright ignorant of copyright laws or, as in the above case, they think that pirating our books is somehow “good” for us…it is also the case that some people pirate books to INTENTIONALLY hurt the author. One of our books was not only scanned and pirated, it had a new page added to the front telling prospective down-loaders something to the effect that “This book is crap…don’t waste your money on it, here it is for free.” I personally believe that much more of this piracy is done with malicious intent than many would like to believe.

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#12 
Written By Harriet
on January 8th, 2012 @ 11:06 am

Wow, I’m an impoverished university student living off carbohydrate based meals too, yet I still manage to put the money aside to purchase books!

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#13 
Written By Phaedra Bonewits
on January 8th, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

One of my late husband’s books was on that site. It did get taken down after I emailed, which was soon after Llewellyn wrote. I received a similar long essay in reply. She asked for feedback, so here is what I said:
——–
Message View
RE: DEW Contact Us
From: Phaedra Bonewits
To: xxxxx
Date: Fri, Jan 6, 2012 10:28 am

Thank you for removing Isaac’s book.

As for the longer letter, let me give you my perspective.

I’ve been poor, too. I lived on ramen noodles in college. I was once thisfar from homeless. But I respect copyright.

Right now I am living on a meager Social Security widow’s pension, supplemented by a little freelance work and a tiny trickle of royalties from my late husband’s work. He wanted me to have those royalties so I would have something, however small, for my old age.

When people pirate his work, they are taking that little bit of money I have coming to me right out of my pocket. I call it theft — what do you call it?

It is not enough to note the copyright on someone else’s work that you are copying. You still do not have the right (get it?) do do that. You have to ask permission. You have to get permission. That permission may involve licensing fees. That’s how creators survive, by those nickels and dimes. If a link gets broken, oh well, life is change. You still do NOT have permission to take someone else’s work, article, picture or book and put it on your site. It doesn’t work that way, no matter what you may rationalize to yourself.

Finding something already pirated on someone else’s website is not permission. It means you are stealing from a thief. How you rationalize that to yourself is your own issue, but you do not have any right to do it.

Keeping something downloaded on your own computer, legitimately obtained or not, for your own use and your own reference is one thing. But uploading it for other people to take? What in the Gods’ name are you thinking? “Here, I stole this. Have some!”

Please don’t tell me you are doing it for poor people who could not otherwise learn about Wicca. Wicca managed to spread itself and Wiccans–rich and poor–to educate themselves quite nicely for a long time before the Internet existed. It is not the only way. Not to mention, there is so much legitimate stuff out there online already, no one has to rely on a site full of pirated materials. That’s an excuse, not a reason.

As far as the trials of being in Virginia, I’ve lived in the South on and off for great chunks of my adult life, from North Carolina to Mobile, Alabama. You “didn’t dare” to buy jewelry or magazines? Oh, please. That is your issue, and not a justification for piracy. Hey, why not steal a bunch of jewelry or magazines and give them away to anyone who asks? You wouldn’t do that? Then why do you give away copies and copies and copies of books? How is that different?

I imagine I sound harsh. That’s how I feel. If you believe in the Wiccan Rede as you say you do, then here is food for thought: think about what is coming back to you now.

Cleaning up your website is a good step in the right direction. Keep going.

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#14 
Written By Alan Heartsong
on January 8th, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

I’m just flummoxed by her responses, and the fact that it took so long for her to take her site down. Something that in reality is a 5 minute process (I’ve done it).

I’ve been practicing Wicca since 1984, and I’ve never felt the need to break copyright law and pirate books online. Talk about a lack of honor, or personal integrity! And playing the “poor wittle me all da big meanies are persecuting me” card is just a pathetic example of not taking personal responsibility for her actions.

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#15 
Written By Soli
on January 8th, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

Sometimes you gotta find the humor in this. This woman sounds way too self-righteous for anyone’s sake. And to get to the core of things: reading books won’t make you Wiccan. Or any other religion for that matter.

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#16 
Written By Ellen-Mary
on January 8th, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

Great post! It drives me nuts when people don’t take responsibility for their actions. Especially when they are caught. You handled her nonsense very well.

I have a question that may be kicking over a hornet’s nest but I would really like an answer. Quite a few books go out of print but the publisher still retains the copyright so the author can’t take the work elsewhere to publish it. The average person who wants a copy can’t get it except secondhand. When an OOP title becomes scarce or popular the prices in the secondhand marketplace go through the roof. The publisher isn’t seeing any of that money and neither is the author. I have known people who have no qualms about getting that kind of title from a pirate. Yes, it violates copyright but legal means of getting the book in a way that benefits the author don’t exist. Buying secondhand at exhorbitant prices feels like robbery. What are your thoughts on that?

I don’t know how difficult it is to make titles available as e-books. It seems like an obvious niche in the market that is being ignored. It’s not like having boxes of books in a warehouse that may never get sold. It’s an electronic file, right? I don’t understand why it isn’t done. It would probably cut down on the temptation of piracy if more out of print titles were at least available as e-books. That way the author would still get something for all their work. Is it very difficult to make e-books? Is it very expensive to do so?

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#17 
Written By MrsB
on January 8th, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

LOVE your responses.

This person could very well share *information* with people near and far without partaking in copyright infringement.

If she wants to support the Pagan community, why not include those who are sharing their *own* knowledge? Pagan authors work their hineys off, and it’s certainly not for the fame and riches.

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#18 
Written By Linda M. (Linda Milano)
on January 8th, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

I’m not an author or publisher, but I am amazed by this woman’s delusion that it is her obligation to teach Wiccans around the country by supplying them with all those books for free. Yes, we all do have an obligation to pass knowledge on, but that can be done by teaching classes and loaning physical books to those she knows. I have a library of books that I have been collecting since abou5 1970 (including the full set of Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac, and several rare and out-of-print books from the early 1900s). I’ve made them available to the local community. Has this woman never heard the saying “Think Globally, Act Locally?”

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#19 
Written By Catherine Monks
on January 8th, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

I cannot for the life of me understand how an individual who claims to be Wiccan can delude themselves into believing there is no harm in stealing someone elses work.
Sadly her name is Legion. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been flamed in chats for asking people to not post copyrighted material or why they aren’t giving an author credit.
Oh and if it were only books- the amount of stolen artwork online is breathtaking.
Where do these people get the sense of entitlement they have? What sort of Wiccan does not think long and hard about their actions? I’ll answer the second question myself. Not the sort of Wiccan we want to see teaching anyone.

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#20 
Written By Elysia
on January 8th, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

Hi Ellen-Mary, thanks for your comment! I can’t speak for other publishers, but if one of our books goes OP and the author asks, we revert all unsold rights to them. (In other words, if we’ve already sold rights to the German edition to a German publisher, we would return all rights except German – that type of thing.) So really in this day and age authors are free to reclaim their works and self-publish directly to ebook if they so wish. There are costs associated with that – whether it is a publisher taking an OP book back to ebook publication, or an author. For many older books, we don’t have computer files of the text, so it all has to be scanned in and converted to text with a software program. Then someone needs to convert it to epub format. We have someone at Llewellyn whose full-time job it is to convert our books, both old and new, to epub and/or other formats. But it does take longer and cost more if we don’t have usable computer files to begin with.
That said, I would point out that there are already small publishers re-issuing some classics – for example, Kala Trobe’s book on Qabalah (originally pubbed by Llewellyn) was reissued digitally in 2011 by Solar Cross, a non-profit religious organization co-founded by author T. Thorn Coyle. So there is that possibility and I think in the future it will be very rare to see books go OP – they will continue to sell digitally and perhaps just not be printed after demand has waned enough. We’ll see…

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#21 
Written By Sarah
on January 8th, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

Pagan Musings Podcast will be doing an episode on this issue. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/profile3.aspx?userurl=pagan-musings) I will be referencing this blog during that show (with full credit and a link, of course ;) ). This is an issue that many Pagans may form an opinion on without understanding the ramifications of their actions.

Elysia, please consider this an invitation to contact us about being on the show to offer your perspective (as well-written as it was here) on this. You (or any of your readers) can contact us regarding this at paganmusings@gmail.com or on facebook (Pagan-Musings Podcast).

Thank you for sharing this.

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#22 
Written By Cerisse
on January 9th, 2012 @ 6:37 am

Great response! It doesn’t sound like she has truly learned, but time will tell. I find it interesting that she feels she has to take down her site, rather than just remove the link to the books and pull the books. If she was truly trying to teach and pass on HER knowledge, then that is all that needed to be done…and it’s not that hard to do it. I have to call BS on her here.

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#23 
Written By Virginia Carper
on January 9th, 2012 @ 11:46 am

Since I seem the target audience for the person’s website and her reason for doing what she did, I would like to reply with my perceptions. I have a traumatic brain injury (tbi) which prevents me from going into libraries, stores, being among groups of people, and limits my computer time. I also have limited funds. Therefore I would be the person who would of course be grateful to this website.

However, there are many workarounds to what the person tries to justify her actions with. (1) Limited access to people — there are organizations and schools that are low cost, and provide a sharing environment on- line. Some have compassionate memberships. (I am a student at the Grey School of Wizard, and a member of ADF. Both provide information, answer questions at a low cost, and are available on the net.)

(2) Inability to go to stores or libraries. As people have pointed out there are internet sellers who do offer discounts. I belong to a frequent buyer book of the month club that features Pagan books. So I do have my books prescreened and available at a low cost. Also they do send things in brown boxes so that the neighbors in my small condo do not suspect my Pagan leanings.

(3) limited funds. There seems to be a strain of thought amongst certain Pagans, that things should either be free or low cost since Pagans are poor. I believe that careful budgeting and financial planning overrides this argument. I have been able to buy the materials I need for my various GSW classes and general knowledge through planning, budgeting, and saving.

As for being shot at and threatened for being Pagan, therefore the need to feature pirated books … I was a career U.S. Federal Gov’t employee. In carrying out my job for the public trust, I was shot at and threatened as well. So what is the person’s point? That they are persecuted and need to hide behind pirated books? It makes no sense to me. People here have addressed that problem and there are blogs of people who have discussed these things. So far no one has suggested hiding behind pirated books as a remedy.

I do appreciate the work that publishers and writers do for the rest of us. By supporting them with our money, we keep the knowledge and work alive.

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#24 
Written By Deborah Lipp
on January 9th, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

She complains that small bookstores are going out of business without the self-awareness to realize that one of the major reasons is people like her.

Well, self-awareness is not her strong suit.

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#25 
Written By Rabbit
on January 9th, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

As you pull down unauthorized copies of your company’s books, I wonder if it is worthwhile to consider replacing them with authorized free material?

Do publishing companies with sizable backlists ever consider creating a portfolio of free material that they can send out into the free network?

There is a theory that the free network is quite large, and if it is used intentionally it can add several zeroes to the number of people exposed to an author’s work. So if an author has a bunch of books for sale, and a newbie reads one of them for free provided intentionally by the publisher/author, the newbie will be more likely to seek out the other books by that author and buy them. More likely than if they had never heard of said author, the theory suggests.

Paganism is such a fascinating approach to spirituality, but most people in the world haven’t heard of it, at least as it is written about it in this niche. Send a book out intentionally for free onto the bit torrents, and, the theory suggests, you’ll reach millions of more potential customers around the world than you could reach through traditional marketing channels. Some of those new readers will become buying customers. Theoretically, if the strategy is used well, you will gain more sales than you lose by offering one bit of a body of work for free.

Even a bizarre person like the pirate in your original post could be persuaded to take down the unauthorized material and replace it with authorized free material selected by the publishers and authors. Thoughts?

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#26 
Written By Celeste Heldstab
on January 9th, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

I have been following this story since it broke, and I am in awe…..this woman just doesn’t perceive herself as performing anything illegal….Whoa…..karma hath no fury….I wouldn’t wish to be around this woman for next few years….

It’s Pretty simple folks – don’t copy material that isn’t yours. Link to it, by all means – if it is allowed by the webmistress…..but show courtesy, intellect, and professionalism.

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#27 
Written By Elysia
on January 9th, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

Thanks for your post, Rabbit! It’s certainly an interesting perspective. From what I’ve read in most of the comments though, a) this is a niche market, and therefore b) most people interested in Pagan spirituality will have already encountered such books and/or know where to find them; and c) most authors do not want their book given away for free just to build name recognition. This is why a lot of authors have their own blogs and social networks – those are the “designated” places to give away free content to build a following and establish their cred in the community.

Now I’m going to respond withe a couple questions of my own:

1) Why would a person download a freebie in the first place not knowing anything about it or the author unless there is a short description of the book? I’m fairly in the dark when it comes to the bit torrents, so I don’t know if these are just lists of files one can copy from another users’ shared folder, or whether there are accompanying reviews or blurbs that would allow the browser to identify what is what and say “oh, wow, I’ve never heard of Paganism, but this sounds kind of cool – I’ll give it a try!” Obviously, if those free files ended up on websites like the one that was just removed, it’s different, because it was meant to be a teaching website and perhaps offered some context.

2) One place were there are blurbs and reviews aplenty is Amazon. Llewellyn and other publishers regularly participate in Kindle promotion programs in which a very limited selection of titles are deeply discounted or even given away for free for a limited time (a day, a week, or a month). The question here would lead to answering your own question, namely: does giving away one title by an author lead to more paid downloads? So far I am on the fence about that, as we don’t have enough numbers to make any conclusions at this point. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the people downloading the free books are people who like free books, period. On Amazon you can easily browse the top free Kindle books, or just browse titles under $3.99. Rumor has it that some people do just that… and not much else. In other words, they’ll take it when the getting is good, but it doesn’t lead to further sales. In such a small niche market, I worry that the same approach to free networks would result in the same – a net gain of “who knows” or “not very much” simply because freeloaders will always be freeloaders.

Good questions and I’d love to hear more input on that…

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#28 
Written By Maddie Paris
on January 10th, 2012 @ 11:20 am

Speaking for myself, I know that getting a free e-book from a author often leads to my spending more money on other books. I scan the free and reduced price books, downloading anything I think I might be interested in. If I find something I like I usually end up buying more. I have found myself buying an author’s entire e-library. I used to check out books from the library to see if I like a particular author before spending any money, but there are books I requested over a year ago, that still haven’t become available for me to check out.
Amazon also offers a free “sample” where a reader can download a chapter or two of a book for free. I have used this several times as well.
BUT, when talking about books with spells or card layouts, I want a *real* book. Clicking a passage to save just isn’t the same as marking a page to return to later for reference,

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#29 
Written By Daniel Fowler
on January 11th, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

one thing that i think a lot of people don’t realise is that while some information on the religion should be free, thats not what your paying for when you buy a book. anyone can half-hazardly lash together a few opinions and facts, but it takes a level of education to know the details. such as: sentence structure, spelling, writing styles, teaching methods. every author has to pay for the education to know how to accomplish all of these feats of literature. you would not expect a blacksmith to forge an athame at no charge because of your intentions for the finished product. then there is the time and energy put in to learning the craft. whether the author paid in cash for that knowledge, it was paid for in time spent studying and doing, subsequiently time away from earning money. furthermore, the subject of money. i have heard the stigma that no arcane knowledge should involve an exchange of money, but thats silly. nothing has ever been for free! even in a communal society that does not opperate on a monitary system, there is still an exchange of valuables or services. money simply becomes an arbitrary medium as a universal trade item of specific value. taking without proper giving back is immoral, no matter how you look at it.

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#30 
Written By Deirdre Hebert
on January 15th, 2012 @ 10:04 am

I’m an author as well as many here. Because I believe my book is valuable, I’m willing to email a copy to anyone who can’t afford to purchase it – but I expect them to ask. I don’t give permission for others to send out copies of my book – it’s my book, and my choice to do that. I don’t consider it an onerous task to simply ask.

I’m also a broadcaster and podcaster. I don’t have the money to pay license fees to podcast musical titles, so I ask each artist individually, and I provide links back to the web sites of the artists I play. If I don’t receive permission to play music, I don’t.

Respect for copyright does not tie anyone’s hands; it simply provides a means for an author to be paid and to control the distribution of their work. Anyone can teach on the web. They can even teach using the books of others. It’s very easy to build lesson plans around a book, without ripping off the content of that book. It’s easy to post a link to purchase an inexpensive e-book copy.

It’s also easy to post links to material held in the public domain. It’s easy to post links to existing articles that do not infringe on copyright.

I’m not feeling particularly upset at the loss of this website – whatever it might be. If she thought her site truly valuable, she could have sought help to re-build things in a way that did not infringe upon copyright. It sounds though, like taking it down was more an angry tirade – akin to chopping off one’s nose to spite her face.

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#31 
Written By Jeanne
on January 23rd, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

Elysia, as much as I dislike what that blogger did, you have officially crossed the line from providing information about piracy to flogging a dead horse.

The site is down. It’s old news. R.I.P. This second blog post of yours is just stomping on the grave, which makes you sound as petty as she does.

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#32 
Written By Fae'o
on February 4th, 2012 @ 3:36 am

This read has so many great points, and so many different perspectives it reminds me of a jam session, people just riffing on ideas, things sounding better and in so many different voices. I really liked Phaedra Bonewits teponse to her. I t was serious. And to ELYSIA who wrote this…Awesome. Your passion and angular sight into the issue provides many different ideas on which to ponder.
I, personally, like to read all kinds of things about the authors. and almost every publisher, or independent magazine allows some content onto the web so you get an idea as to your interest. So why not read that, pass those quotes on and those links. That way, the karma is clean and everyone benefits.
And besides, reading some…er…larger retail sites, you can often find from 1 to 75+ (from my experience) reviews from readers, and that should tell a lot. Not to mention some sites allow browsing of some books.
Worst thing, it’s stealing from the PUBLISHING COMPANY too…and they are the folks that help the AUTHORS get the info out there in the first place.
I appreciate this thread and article for it shows something that needs to be addressed from many different sides. Everyone can learn from this.
Sorry to chime in late on this. I obviously need to check this site every couple days.

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#33 
Written By Skye Alexander
on February 13th, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

Thanks, Elysia, for your dedicated effort to protect authors and the publishing world in general from pirates. I’m always amazed at the responses I get from pirates when I confront them for stealing my work. Most act huffy, as if I’m the one who’s wronged them by insisting they remove the copyrighted material or at least credit me and link to my website. One woman even insisted she’d actually written material she’d copied word-for-word from one of my books, to which I responded she must be one hell of a good channel if she could intuit whole pages of my words exactly as they’d appeared in print some ten years earlier. It’s a really tough issue to fight, but I appreciate your work on the behalf of all of us!

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#34 
Written By Alessi
on February 17th, 2012 @ 10:13 am

Interesting article. I think that one way of tackling the copyright issue is to make more items easily available for purchase as electronic downloads. Many people would probably pay for something if it was easy for them to do so and they didn’t have to wait to get it. Unfortunately in this day and age, internet users seem to consider that any delay that is even noticable is too long.

Authors need to be more stringent about citing their own references too. There is too much obvious plagiarism, especially in the “new age”, section of bookshops and it seems a little foolish to get worked up about copyright violation of a largely plagairised book.

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#35 
Written By Shannon Kristopher
on May 26th, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

Thank you so much, Elysia. I myself got into a copyright
spat with a similiar woman, who shall be nameless. In the end, I got a migraine and my excerpt taken off the website, she learned nothing, and in her egotistical judgement, standing up for my copyright rights made me the villain. I hope never to run into such a person again. I hope you never have to deal with anyone who has the gall to think they can steal something that someone has labored over and written! Bravo! And again,thankyou!

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#36 
Written By mist42nz
on May 30th, 2012 @ 2:27 am

” If you’ve been a practicing Wiccan for all these years and still can’t manage to write your own ritual to share with your students, then I truly feel sorry for both you and them.”

It’s the attitude that gets me.
You’ve been a Wiccan for how long and don’t realise stealing other peoples’ stuff is wrong?
Or that “I want it this way” is not appropriate for justification for anything, let alone anything connected with magic use….

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#37 
Written By PentaGram
on August 26th, 2012 @ 11:14 am

My goodness, how much text to read…

Anyway, my opinion is that as long as the Internet exists copyrighted materials – books, movies, games – shall ALWAYS be accessible to ANYONE for limitless download 24/7/365… This “battle” with the women in question is pointless as they are going to be numerous and numerous web sites from which you shall be able to download as many pirated material as you wish… If you remove one web site which contains copyrighted material, another one will appear (times ten…).

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#38 
Written By Angie Grenier
on October 9th, 2012 @ 11:21 am

Author websites are great…and facebook and other social sites. I downloaded a $1.99 ebook of Ellen Dugan’s Garden Witchery that I’ve wanted FOREVER! I found out about it through her facebook page. I’ve downloaded everything I could possibly need to build my practice from legal public domain sites. For the most part, I can’t afford to buy books on a regular basis. The ones I really want (want- not NEED) I get them when I have extra to splurge.
Thanks for the articles!

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#39 
Written By Birgit
on December 18th, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

Hi again. I read the whole blog. lol She claims to be a practicing wiccan. What part of the law of 3 did she not understand?

Okay. She lived in a small town and was in the broom closet. I work for the government. I do not hide. I have had a lot of christians ask me about my religion, (wiccan and witch). I explain to them that we are not what they have been told. That is educating them. They have asked me to explain certain things and I have told them. When they wanted to know more detail, I have given them the names of authors and books that they can learn from.

True, B&N has very little in pagan books anymore. Thank the Goddess for Llewellyn Publications. I can still get the books I want or need.

Yes, Borders was great and, yes, they are gone. But there are still a lot of sites where you can BUY the books. There are a lot of great sources still available. I have been practicing for over 40 years. I am, as paganism is, still evolving. As we grow older and continue practicing, we continue to learn. How we live our lives is the greatest teaching we can give to those who want to know.

Thank you.

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