One of the things that proved a big problem back in the early days of the Internet (early being hilariously laughable to me since it was only long ago to people who had the privilege of growing up with computers) was – and still is – rampant plagiarism. This was especially true among Wiccan sites.
Plagiarism really goes all the way back to the days of Francis Barrett in Western occultism, probably earlier than that. It’s practically a tradition in itself. By the time the occult reached the Internet – and the interface became visual enough to interest a 12 year old – the tradition of pretending you hadn’t plagiarized had long been dropped.
So along with the spinning pentacles, glittering unicorns and the basic text of the charges of God and Goddess, various copies of the Rede and much of Scott Cunningham’s work somehow made its way onto the web. I was completely unsurprised to find works I’d written, both credited and not, appear on many a website and there was an early internet foray where a bunch of other people copyrighted work landed on my own website. ((This was corrected with some scandal involved. Long story, unhinged lady who had an agenda that was about something much less legitimate than protecting her own copyright who only found out when I had ASKED HER FOR PERMISSION TO REPRINT and then launched an attack campaign that was the equivalent of Cartman screaming “Respect Mah Authoritah!” She actually called my university’s tech administrator, who I worked with at his radio show – and he essentially told her to fuck off.))
For the most part, I haven’t bothered chasing down copyright violators. I think I’ve only intervened when the ambition would guarantee the violator a lawsuit s/he would not be able to afford – like the person who copied pieces of a book verbatim because he was “sure the author wouldn’t mind,” and another person who stated the intention of putting the whole of Llewellyn Magical Almanacs online.
I will say that the popularity of blogging and the rising age of the internet user has made a real difference. More people produce original material, much of it drawn from their own lives. ((Those who use the Internet as their life are another discussion altogether – and I don’t think it’s necessarily an illegitimate choice.))
Because of the way blogs work, no one really reads personal websites – and what would go on a personal website now pretty much lands on Facebook.
The Internet is ultimately a social tool, and it’s the way we entertain each other – which is why ICanHazCheeseburger works so well. The Creative Commons structure gives hundreds and thousands the freedom to amuse each other with captions.
Which is why I’m thinking a bit more about Creative Commons. Since I’ve uploaded some videos to my website and I’m also releasing bits of poetry soon, I’m looking at a new possibility, one I wished for often in the early days: a you’d BETTER be creative license. The idea is that if you grab something from what I created – you then turn around and upload it with your variation, notes on the differences, and thus expand on the idea. I think it would be incredibly cool.
This would also prove especially useful in ritual writing. Given how much poetry gets used and adopted in ritual speech, free permission to adopt poetry into it would be great and give some significance back to poets – poetry would once again have a function outside of three chord structures in pop lyrics.
I’m progressively going through my flickr stream and making 10% Creative Commons attribution – I’m just wondering what else I could inspire or promote that way.