Friday, September 7, 2012


Blessings Darlings!

Plagiarism (from Wikipedia): defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work.

I've been running into an astonishing amount of plagiarism on Pagan sites and pages online lately.  It's hard to find an original thought.  Instead, you get a picture of an athame with text that comes from Wikipedia.  You look, and the person posted it after taking it (with permission) from another site which may or may not be the one that original plagiarized the text.  Okay, in this case, the text was originally plagiarized by Ravensgrove Coven  on Facebook. 

But that one group isn't the only one doing it.  Lots of groups on Facebook, lots of blogs, lots of websites, have scraped all their content from others, usually without attribution.  And in the cases where the stuff is copyrighted, without getting permission from the writer/artist.

Honor? The 3-fold law? The Wiccan Rede? Karma? Common decency? "The Christians stole all our stuff"? Some Pagans have no ethics, no morals, no honor, and lie about their belief in the Gods, the Rede, the 3-fold law, etc.

Like what someone else has written, and want to share it?  Great!  Write a summary mentioning who wrote it and provide a link to the original source.  That way you share it AND the creator gets the traffic/attention.  I've done that with many folks blogs posts that I like.  You will NOT read their entire blog post on MY blog.  I will link you to THEIR blogs.

Want to incorporate someone else's words that inspired your work, and don't have their permission?  Look at what I posted on Thursday, Sept 6, 2012 (with luck, I'll remember to put the link in!).  Instead of quoting the words, which I didn't have permission for and ... uh ... was pretty sure that the writer wouldn't want to give me permission for, I did a bullet point summary.  The source being from a closed group I could not link back to it in general, and since I also wanted to protect the privacy of the 'bad example', I also did not want to post her name/identifying into, like an avatar.

Today was one of those days when I called out plagiarism when I saw it.  And I discovered that some of the people ... well, I'll leave out what the Lala called them ... before she was bounced from one group ... don't seem to understand the difference between plagiarism and copyright violations.

Let me explain the difference between plagiarism and copyright violations: plagiarism, as noted above, is ANYTIME you pass off the words of another as your own (not giving credit) even if the words are public domain (that is, wikipedia); copyright violations muck up an author's 'exclusive right' to their words.

Honestly, plagiarism is explained to US kids thoroughly in high school, when they are taught to do research papers.  It's not rocket science, it's not a PhD level concept, it's not a 3rd degree mystery. 

Frondly, Fern


  1. Recently I've been seeing a lot of scanned or items copied directly from books. Sometimes the author gives the source believing that is enough when it isn't.
    I saw an argument form on one facebook page where the owners of the page were annoyed that someone kept trying to post sources to the items they shared. They stated that often the sources were incorrect because they were taking stuff not from online but older magazines and books.
    Copy write does allow for a certain amount of direct quoting with a proved source but that doesn't mean a scan of a full page or the entirety of a spell.
    Great post reminding people about this very serious issue.

  2. Great post, thanks for doing it! I try very hard to post sources because I think that it's very important for people to know the difference between anything original that I write and something that I put out for reference. If I post something from someone else, I find it useful to only post the first paragraph or two and add a citation, including the original web page, identifying the source and why I'm posting it.

  3. A nitpick, your example of "public domain" is wikipedia. While there is some public domain content on wikipedia, and labelled as such (because they themselves got it from a public domain source and therefore can't put any other license on it), the vast majority of content on wikipedia is available to copy under a CC and/or GFDL license that each have attribution as a condition (and the insistence that you yourself license it in such a way as to allow copying under similar conditions).

    There is some content there that is licensed differently, and labelled as such.

    Hence, because attribution is one of the conditions under which wikipedia allow you to use their copyright content, while you are generally allowed to copy from them (and therefore copying from them is not a copyright violation), if you plagiarise you break the rules under which they let you do so, and hence it becomes a copyright violation too.

  4. One of the worst copyright violations I've seen recently within the pagan community is the coven website that had a huge collection of pagan books online and were allowing people to download and view them for free. Without, of course, the authors' permission.

    I really do not understand how anyone can do something like that or even pass someone else's words off as their own. Citing sources, having permission, giving credit, etc was drilled into my head and anyone else's who was paying attention in school. Ignorance is no excuse.

    Thank you, Fern, for shining a light on all of this. The more people stand up and speak out about it, the better.

  5. who cares? It's been going on in modern pagandom for 30 years or so. There aren't any new ideas in modern paganism, it's all plagiarized, and then folks copyright it.
    It's like bottled water,heh.

  6. I'm not a bottled water fan, either, of course.

    But, Pure One, aren't you the one who doesn't even really believe in writing things down for others to read, instead thinking that teaching directly/in person is the only way to go? Might not that view kind of shade your view on what to do with the written/typed word?

  7. Bottled One: Just because everyone has been doing it for so long does not make it right nor does it change the fact that it is against the law! Copying another persons work and calling it yours is plagiarism. Copying someones work and not attributing it is a copyright violation of that person's work. And it is all illegal, immoral and in bad form for a pagan to do - violating anyone's rights is something we stand up for again and again, yet we see no harm in stealing someone's words, art or music. As Fern said - honor or common decency? We should be much more honorable as a community than we are.

    Thank you Fern for a really good article!