The article I wrote about Pagan copyright violations was complicated. For one, the laws themselves are complicated. For another, many people (Pagan and not) believe they understand those laws, when mostly all they understand is what other people have told them. That can lead to people with good intentions violating laws or harming other people. Yuck.
What I cannot understand is the way people dig in, and really fight for the right to make infinite copies of works others created, even after authors patiently explain how these actions bring harm. That’s why I felt it was important to capture some of those sentiments. This is not evidence that Paganism is fracturing and falling apart (if it ever was together), because this is not a Pagan issue at all. 21st-century people seem to feel thoroughly entitled to get it all for free, and when the legitimate channels of free information bore them, they will go to incredible lengths to justify this theft.
Wiccan and, I am certain, other Pagan ethics are quickly tossed aside in favor of having another book for free. I’m not claiming the moral high ground here; I downloaded some music before the turn of the century that I shouldn’t have, and I do understand the allure, but the magnitude of the problem is mind-blowing. The cognitive disconnect is such that I am sure someone is downloading Pagan Ethics as you read this. Considering that the group owner was not only unapologetic, but openly admitting he’d put the content someplace where it again could be illegally downloaded, is evidence of a problem which isn’t just him, or that one group, or people who follow a Pagan or polytheist religion. It’s all of us, and something has to change or art itself may be relegated to something people only do as a hobby.
There are some who believe they are sticking it to the man, or believe that all information should be free, or down with government. I get that, I really do. I wonder how many female/gay/trans/minority/disabled authors feels empowered by their actions? Is it possible that theft is simply theft, and shouldn’t be used as a form of activism any more than rioting should, because it’s impossible to predict who will be harmed?
Perhaps we need to find a way to return to patronage of the arts. I know that Patreon is out there, but I’ve avoided it simply because it carries with it an expectation to perform like a circus animal, generating content to keep the patrons happy. That’s not how art is created, and I don’t think it’s how patronage works best. I’ve been researching a book on Pagans and money for five years and it could be another five before I get it written. It would be far longer if I had to stop to provide proof-of-life content; I’d have to work on posts and fresh content instead of reading and taking notes on what I’d like to say. It seems to work for some folks, but I am not sure it’s for me.