Monday, December 13, 2010

Sticky-fingered Readers, and The Occult.

I've always had mixed feelings about the trade in torrented Occult documents, xerox'd copies of out-of-print books, PDFs of high-priced volumes... all making their circulations. But a part of me says "Ah, they're meant to be read. I've begged, borrowed and paid off people to read their books before, I can't blame someone for not going to the same lengths to do things right" -- and yet, can't I?

Whether the text is copyrighted, or intellectual, or spiritual, or emotional - the theft is there. Distribution of books with proper attribution may not send me into frothing, but erasing the credit and replacing it with one's own? Ooh, I seethe.

I read more blogs than some folks must think. I know quite well when someone is copying material, experiences and ideas from this blog (or other blogs, for that matter), and posting it as their own. I find it absolutely disgusting. Blogs are absolutely meant to be read, to inspire - but not "inspire" in the sense of inspiring someone to copy them outright.

I'm not just pissing around, you know. I really do have these experiences, and I fear - to the depths of my heart do I fear - what will happen to those who dabble, meddle, and falsify about them. You're flirting with meaner and more vicious things than you realize, and by each of your actions, each of your words, you ring out to them. You garner their attention.

Of course, that brings me back to the old chestnut of Magicians/Witches who espouse their own greatness, and secretly have no faith whatsoever in the reality of their workings, have no faith in the spirits, and no faith in the gods.

The beings in the firelight of the Sabbat-circle are not all sweet. The growling maw of The Mother is nothing compared to some of those things when they are offended. When you speak of the Power they hear, and they come - and if they find you wanting? Oh god, pity does not approach what I would feel.


  1. Yep. When I had a site and a blog this happened a few times to me too. (One even had the audacity to lift the code itself and basically mirror my site, appearance and all!) Some people. I just don't get them.

    And as far as torrenting occult material, it has at least one practical use: I use it to preview material BEFORE spending that ungodly sum of money on that ancient, rare, dusty, half-eaten book... lol. Is that bad?

  2. I'm on the fence about certain torrents. Some books are just not affordable, nor available, to everyone. If someone wants it bad enough, they'll find it however they -can-. And in this age, that probably means torrents.

    I wish that they could go get a copy (maybe a cheaper, less valuable, paperback edition), and reward the authors and publishing houses for producing such fine fare, but I am not the arbiter of their conscience.

  3. You know, I have read on a webmaster forum I participate in regularly that people are doing what you describe, Scylla, plagiarizing and even mirroring blog content, but I did not realize people would do that with occult content. Sheesh. I think you are right, that such people do not actually believe in what they are doing. I hope they do get seriously bit in the ass. There is never any good reason to steal someone's words.

    I am not sure if you or other folks in this situation know about it, but you can send a DMCA to Google, which will remove them from their results, which is death to site, and to their webhost. Here's how to do it with Google:

    A DMCA is a mandatory take-down letter of intellectual property.

    Here's how to find out who someone's webhost is:

    Enter the info, then scroll down in the results to get the nameserver, which always starts with n. Then you can go to the site of the webhost and send a DMCA to their abuse or legal contact email re their customer. If you ever want help doing this, just ask. I feel strongly that live by the sword, die by the sword. You steal my stuff, I find you, your site goes down.

    Re the torrented books, it's normally possible to read even a really expensive book at a university library. Most of them will let people come in and use the stacks or even let you take books out if you fill out a form. Some make you pay to take books out (I use Cornell's library but don't pay the fee to take books out, because it's hefty--$250/year, last time I checked, and frankly, I get so much out of using their article databases for free that I don't need to take any books out). But you can still read them there for free. I have tried getting really expensive books on interlibrary loan, but normally they will not lend those out to community libraries, only to university libraries. If you are a student, you are set. Another possibility is questia. They often will give access to expensive books in an e-version for much less than the paper version. I have gotten some real expensive books that way. Now Google Books is starting to do that. And finally it is sometimes possible to pick up a used copy of a book for much less even than what the going price is. I use a lot, because it is often less than Amazon used books, and it supports a lot more brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop book shops than Amazon does. So there are a lot of alternatives. Most books it is possible to look at them free on Amazon or Google Books, but you normally can't access the whole book.

    Personally, I figure that if I am supposed to read a particular book that is very expensive and I can't get access to it after trying these other means, then I'm not supposed to have access to it right now and I don't need it. I read voraciously and always have a backlog of stuff I have bought and haven't read yet.

  4. @Harold ===There is never any good reason to steal someone's words. ===

    So true, especially when the cost WILL be so high. The issue is that it's easier to steal someone's experiences, than seek your own, especially in the Occult. A friend of mine who's an occult author discussed this problem after her book about hauntings came out. Some people saw these amazing events and felt lacking because they'd never had such experiences - and then decided to make things up, or pretend those experiences were their own.

    === but you can send a DMCA===

    At this point, I'm not sure a DMCA is applicable, but I can detect several authors present in this single person's blog-writing. As someone on a forum I frequent just learned, I can sniff out a person by the unique "scent" of their language. My word-use is unconventional at best, and has a unique stink.

    ===You steal my stuff, I find you, your site goes down. ===

    It's one thing when it's word-for-word, it's another when it's intellectual property, look/feel, and experiences - reworded. Then it's less theft, and more a kind of spiritual violation. I feel it's less actionable on the usual fronts, but far worse on the spiritual ones.

    === possible to read even a really expensive book at a university library.===

    Absolutely possible, inter-library loan between universities, paid fees if you want to take it home, a few askance looks from librarians, and a wealth - a treasury - is at your fingertips. I even know of a few libraries which have Xoanon works and are willing to loan them!

    I believe the local university is $50/yr. I'm very seriously considering asking my sweetie for that as a present. And then of course no one will ever hear from me, because I'll be at the university making my brain-case crack with smarts.

    ===I'm not supposed to have access to it right now and I don't need it.===

    I've had books find their way to me. Just recently I said to myself "I'm limiting my spending at the bookstore to $20." I walked in and they were having a sale - any used books $19.95 or less were now 5 for $20. I found six really great books that STILL only cost me $20-ish (a quirk of the system still telling them that if you buy two books you get one for $1, and them being utterly unable to override it). I was supposed to have those books.

    One area where it gets very, very, very gray for me with "sharing" is group buys. When 5, 10, 20 people pitch in to purchase a very expensive book which is intended to be scanned by an individual and digital, archival, copies provided to all parties who invested. Or, for that matter, the owner of a book scanning it and sending a PDF with "I'm not loaning you the physical copy because I don't let it out of my sight, but I am loaning you my book."

    I'm just not sure how to frame those, y'know?

    ===I read voraciously and always have a backlog of stuff I have bought and haven't read yet. ===

    I've got a backlog of about ten to fifteen books right now, myself.

  5. I've seen the monkey-see-monkey-do kind of stuff you are talking about. In my case, competitors have created duplicates of my original oils. It pissed me off real bad at first, but then I figured no one can make those oils as well as I can. Anyone who buys mine will know that. And if they buy someone's imitation that is less, well, they will get what they paid for. So if someone is copying the feel and ideas, they are losers and sooner or later, that's going to show.

    There is actually software created specifically to to rewrite content but keep it close enough to the original to leach traffic. A competitor of mine does this to my pages on a periodic basis. But otherwise, you can find violators with You put your page in there--or THEIR page--and whoo the stuff you will find. It is like dropping stain on a microscopic slide; the cancer cells jump out. I do this occasionally but not too much. There are always people taking my content, and I only have X amount of time to go after them. Also, it is depressing to listen to them whine and lie about how they didn't do nothin' and why don't I share.

    "Group buys"--I have never heard of this. Shows how out of it I am. I do see people volunteering pdfs of books that are not out of copyright all the time. It is one reason I do not like reading forums except in gardening and webmastery, where it doesn't happen much.

    Re resolutions to curtail book-buying, I began a habit of looking for books, reading reviews, and keeping wishlists on Amazon and then actually buying the books on abebooks with the intention of saving money. But what has happened is that I just buy more books for the same amount of spend. :) However, I am also more willing to risk getting a book I might not have read otherwise. I have bought a carload of books about making incense and magic oils that I never would have paid good money for otherwise. I just had to check them out. But I have occasionally found gems that way, like a book on Santerian incense that I got for I think four dollars including shipping. It's true that the author does not get the money from a used book, but a bookshop does--that'a a job right here in the US.

    Try copyscape on the blog offender. See what it shows you. It makes it easy to decide if you want to bother. Once in a while, when I was feeling especially evil and had time, I ran someone's plagiarized-from-multiple-sites page through copyscape and then notified every one of the sites it had been plagiarized from.

  6. I've had the same issues with people nicking both my writings and my recipes. With the writing, it's mostly been people translating it into other languages, posting it on websites, and not telling me. But if there's full attribution and they apologize, I have no problems with that. I came to terms with people creating similar recipes to mine, but when they use the same packaging and style of photography - that really pisses me off. I just have to remind myself that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... and the copycats aren't doing as well.

    I know what you are talking about Scylla - I see blogs like that all time. Almost everything they write in a post comes from a few specific authors or other bloggers and they're just regurgitating it. It's so easy to tell, why even have a blog if you're going to do that?

    I'm of a mixed mind about torrent downloads as well. On one hand certain publishers just aren't going to make affordable copies or even second printings and those pdf's are all some people will ever see - but on the other hand just because some books are highly sought after doesn't actually make them any good and the pirating is only hyping up the books even more. Some books are affordable and easy to find and those are the ones I have problems with people illegally downloading - shell out the 20 bucks people! There are so many free and out of copyright works available electronically, why waste time reading the ones that aren't? Databases like JSTOR, Sacred Texts and Google Books make me weak in the knees with their awesomeness.