When I first put up this site, I knew next to nothing about computers. An example of this would be that I still had the directions of how to turn on my computer and log on written down next to me. When I searched for graphics I looked in search engines for free graphics sites. It never occurred to me to just go to Pagan sites and get some, as I knew nothing and had no idea that you could even take a graphic (or anything else) from a site unless it was free. I didn't even know how to save a graphic until I found the directions on these sites. I also thought that once you put up a graphic it couldn't be taken unless the web crafter entered some fancy code to make it possible. I wish I was right and that was the case. In my search for graphics I found a very beautiful one and used it. Nothing wrong with that...right? Wrong. Even free graphic sites often have no idea if the graphics they have are actually free domain. The one I used turned out to be a copyright graphic (although no copyright was indicated), and was taken from someone's site. If you come across a graphic that looks to good to be free domain, it probably isn't. And it is NOT okay to go to someone's web site, steal their information, and put it on yours! It's colled theft, or for people like me who really fork out the money to keep my site legally copyright (not just call it copyright, like so many do), it's called copyright infringement, and could cost you a hefty fine if your guilty of it!
So what should I do? The great news is that there are a number of outstanding Pagan artists who offer the use of their work for no more than a simple credit and/or link. That's not too much to ask for free stunning graphics is it? The best place to look for a listing of links to these sites is The Witches Voice. If you like the graphics on someone's page, check for links and credits to the sites they were obtained from. Go to the sites and get them there. Don't take the graphics directly from the persons site! Another important thing is to keep a record of where you got all of your graphics, as well as any information on your web site you recieved permission to use. Make a back up of this. Should you ever have problems you will have a handy reference to guide you back to the source of it. But most importantly, put up credits!
If you have lost the link of where you got a graphic, or page of information, and can't find it after a very thorough internet search, delete the information from your computer. Putting up messages saying something to the effect of "I've lost the link to this graphic. If it belongs to you, or you know who it belongs to, please inform me so I can provide proper credit ", or "I don't remember where I got any of this material, so if you do please let me know" is NOT acceptable. Do you really think WE should (or would even bother) to do YOUR research for you? It basically means you're too lazy to do it yourself, don't care whether it's copyright or not, or just stole it from other sites and think the message will make it sound like an innocent mistake. Take it ALL down, find graphics and if you don't have enough info to create a web site, then don't!
A bigger, and much more infuriating problem is copying and using other peoples hard work. This has happened to me too many times to count. People have stolen pages I've written, entire sections, even my entire site! In almost every case, claimed they had wrote it themselves. Hmmm, word for word with the same font and graphics? I don't think so. When it came to my page about conservation and recycling, the excuse was "Well, it's all stuff we've heard before". If that's the case they should have written it themselves, like I did. What about the pages that were taken from books? Well for one thing, I purchased the books, obtain permission to use, and give credit to every book and author I have ever quoted from. I also typed every letter, formatted and did the html for them as well. Swiping with the excuse that 'you just got it from a book anyway' is just a way of saying 'I'm too lazy to do this myself, I don't want to pay for books, so I'll just cut my work load to zero, not, support authors, crediting them or purchasing their books, and take yours'. When people tell you how hard they work on their sites, they mean it. I personally do *all* the work involved with my web site, and in most cases, it takes several days, just to create 1 single page. If you want to put information on your site do it yourself! If you want people to be able to access information on another web site, put a link to their site, *not* a page (unless you are given permission to do so).
Like me, several web site owners accept submissions of various types of information from people. Some people have entire web sites made up of submissions, yet for whatever reason, some don't even credit the people who sent them the submission. It's just common sense to not only credit the person and keep their email address, but do an internet search to see if the material in question is indeed original, and not stolen from another web site.
Any site or graphic with © or (c), the copyright symbol or contains the word copyright is a clear indication that it is not intended for free distribution unless stated otherwise. That means the ENTIRE site, graphics, contents, everything. Even web sites and graphics that do not contain a visible copyright credit on them should not be used without written permission. Some artists and web crafters simply don't like the look of having credits on their work. Personally, I would rather not have them on mine either but with work that I have made myself, numerous pages, entire sections, or personally commissioned graphics made exclusively for my site being stolen left, right and center, I don't feel like I have much of a choice. If it says copyright, hands off!!
And speaking of copyrights, since I first wrote this essay, it's been read by well over five hundred thousand people. Of all those people, only one person has linked to the essay. But it did result in an enormous serge of web sites that claim to be copyright. Sadly, the amount of them that actually are, is substantially less than the ones that claim to be.
Well why not share? Many do. Many make graphics and have pages just for that very purpose, they WANT you to have them and are honored to see them being used, but there is a good reason that some don't. Originality and personal expression. What kind of statement would the Pagan WWW be making if every site looked the same and had the same graphics and content? What does that say about the web crafters of those sites? Not to mention how boring it would be to surf the web. When people come here I want them to see something different and original. To enjoy viewing the graphics, and hopefully gain some knowledge. To come away with something they didn't know or see before. But I don't want it to be seen as an open playground to rip off stuff. Thieves seem to think 'Well since it's only on their site, who's gonna know?'. Eventually, we do.
Which brings us to the nastiest bit. Finding your work on someone's page and dealing with the person who took it. I have made this mistake. I remember not knowing the first thing about computers or web etiquette, so when I first approach someone it is done in a kind and gentle way and always should be. After all this person may have no idea that they have done anything wrong. In all the times I have approached someone who has taken something from my site, only ONE person was kind, and to that person I am eternally grateful. They apologized for the mistake and immediately removed it. Imagine what it's like to receive replies such as the a few I am including here. These are *actual* quotes followed by my feelings about them.
The graphic is good enough for their front page, but my site isn't worthy of a link? Thanks for the insult.
"I don't intend to remove it and if I get bad karma for that so be it."
Apparently they received the karma as the site no longer exists.
"Come on this is the net...not real life and sometimes you have to deal with sharing."
Not real life? I'm real and so is my site. Sharing isn't something you 'deal' with.
"I think you're being selfish and the only reason I'm taking it down is because I'm tired of your whining. Now I'm sure you're huffing and puffing over this one but this is all my opinion and if you don't like it you shouldn't visit my page."
I wish I hadn't.
" As for this being stealing it is my opinion that this is not stealing. The image is bits of memory on a computer and I think its silly to put a copyright on something like that. THAT is why you won't see me admitting it's stealing, it's my opinion that it's NOT. It is illegal sure, but the only people who sue for things like this are big companies like Disney & Microsoft. "
So it's illegal but it isn't stealing? Ya, that makes sense.
"I will take it down at my leisure because it's my page and I'll do whatever I like, if you don't like it that only makes me happier that I'm inconvienancing(sp?) you."
This comment really upset
me. It was so disheartening to know that a 'fellow Pagan' could actually
find joy in knowing they
were hurting someone.
To those with sites, BE RESPONSIBLE! Take pride in your web site. If you don't posses enough knowlege or resorses to create a web site, you shouldn't have one. Don't just put one up because you can get one for free. Have a purpose for your site and make it something that you can take pride in. Don't just slap together a bunch of graphics and pages of other people's hard work, not knowing if you're even allowed to use them. Make your site uniquely yours, keep it current and give people a reason to want to come back. Give credit where credit is due. I promise, it doesn't hurt a bit and you will sleep better knowing you did.
If someone has used material or graphics from your page write them with kindness. Give them the benefit of the doubt first, unless it is a clear case of stealing, such as taking your work and copyrighting it to themselves. Sending an angry email with flames flying off the screen is not an effective method of dealing with this and only incites hostility and harm. From the examples I have given above, even kindness can provoke a hostile and defensive response. Sending a kind message that not only points out the error the person has made, but provides them with information or links to places where they can gain an understanding of WHY what they did was wrong and show them that you aren't the only person it has happened to will also spread the word, which may get passed along from them to others they know with sites who have done the same thing.
There's nothing pleasant about having your work ripped off. It's frustrating and can be infuriating depending on the situation. But as I said, if they don't know it's wrong or even a problem they may never know. That is, unless they happen to receive a letter pointing it out. If people get the message think of the glorious changes that could take place. People with existing web sites or ones in progress looking at it in a whole new way. Putting *real* thought into what their site can contribute. Striving to be original and using their own content. Removing graphics they aren't sure are free domain or took from some else's site, and pages they know don't belong to them. People asking for permission to use things, and proudly displaying credit pages, links to sources of information and 'used with permission'. Thieves thinking twice about ripping off your hard work.
Am I being too optimistic? Maybe, but what if I'm not. Care to join me in trying to educate and put a stop to this? Then join in the chorus of the pioneers who made many aware of this in the first place. Write a page like this and make others aware of it. Put it in a *very* prominent place, like you front page. Link to pages like this and join campaigns that are fighting to make a difference. We have the power to change things for the better. To stop this epidemic and in the process inspire others to produce original sites that will increase the standards of what people think of when making one. This will enrich the Pagan WWW with quality ones we can all be proud of and enjoy visiting.
Permission to link to this page or use my logo is freely granted and encouraged. Placing it in a prominent place would be most appreciated as it will spread the message faster.
Copyright © 1997 - 2004 A Witch's Cauldron. All rights reserved. NO information or graphics on this web site, may be copied or displayed on the internet. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of copyright laws. Please report violations to Celeste.
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