Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pagan Plagiarism

"The Bewick Thief" courtesy of Wikipedia commons

Dear f!@#ing gods, how much longer is this going to continue?

Yes, I found yet another Pagan merchant who has plagiarized my writings. I should just start a running blacklist, but being fairly certain that it would be a 9-5 job to keep up with all the thieves in the Wiccan community, I must be content with outing them here.

All right, here's the deal. I logged into Etsy (a nice handmade website) looking for Yule gifts for fiends, friends, and family :)
I found a listing for "Command & Compel Oil" (not a terribly common condition oil to find on the open market) from Magickal Enchantments(Johnston, Rhode Island). I'm always interested in fellow herbalist's and root-workers take on a formula, so I clicked it. Only to find that my description and usage had been stolen, word for word. What she didn't steal from me, she stole from Lucky Mojo Curio Shop.
While it is quite flattering to be placed on the same level as Cat Yronwode (Hoodoo Goddess that she is!), it is, once again, enraging to find that someone claiming to follow a Pagan path would stab a fellow Pagan in the back.Of course, I wrote the shop owner, as follows:

"Hi, while I was browsing Etsy, I noticed your Command and Compel oil. After reading the item description, I realized that it bore a remarkable resemblance to the one on my website. In fact, an entire paragraph was taken, word for word, from my website, While I have had certain problems with other Pagan shops stealing my work (one memorable case in which a vapor-ware seller stole my Witchvox announcement, word for word), I cannot believe that this is a coincidence. I'm giving you the option of changing your item description, and if I see my original writings attached to your shop again, on or off Etsy, I will bring the full force of the legal team of TTR Group down on you like a ton of lawyers. Are we clear? Perhaps you should consider living up to the Pagan title you so proudly proclaim."

Dear Carmin, I never copy anything from anyone else and I would appreciate it if you didnt threaten me either. I tried the link for your store and it wouldnt come up so I cant see your item description. I have no problem changing the wording in my item description if it is like yours however I will have you know that I got my description from my book, The Book of 5,000 spells. Perhaps that is where you got yours as well? I tried the link and it didnt work. Is your website down right now? As I said, I have no problem changing anything that is exactly the same as yours but please understand that I in no way copied your item. I am pretty sure I have never been on your site as it doesnt ring a bell. Let me know when your site is working so I can change the wording that is the same as yours...I finally got to your shop by using google, for some reason the web address wasnt working for me. I am sorry, but I really dont see how your wording is anything like mine at all. Maybe I am on the wrong site? I copy and pasted what I found under your listing of the command and compel oil and posted it below. Am I on the wrong site? This doesnt sound like anything I have on my listing of this oil. I did put the listing as inactive until this is settled. I have had people copy my work and understand how frustrating that is and I would in no way do that to others as I know the law of karma quite well(emphasis mine). I am all set with getting into that area. So let us work this out as adults. With that said, please tell me where you see the same wording in our listings. Thank you, Brightest Blessings, Kat

Now, my fellow root-workers probably (hopefully) know that the Book of 5000 Spells, while entertaining, is NOT a great formulary.In fact, it looks a bit like Herman Slater's (prolific plagiarizer and owner of The Magickal Childe). Judika Illes comes a lot closer (for one, she doesn't put lavender and honeysuckle in every formula, or melon oil in D.U.M.E),and her spells are well researched, but if this is Kat's formulary, she's got more than a few things wrong. Of course, listing High John root, cherry tobacco, and mace as components in her "old family recipe" were a dead give away too.

My response:
Dear Katherine Cotoia, "As an anointing oil and spell powder, it can be used to boost your magnetic qualities and inspire confidence. Excellent for strengthening the Will." That was taken, word for word (excepting "spell powder")and placed on your listing. You didn't even change the capitalization or punctuation. No, it was not taken from Judika Illes' Book of 5000 spells, she doesn't use that phrase anywhere in the description. I'm looking at it right now. It is MY original writing, in MY distinctive style. For another, our tracking software is showing a hit (from Johnston, Rhode Island), on the 24th of October (same day you listed your oil), using the keyword "Command and Compel Oil", and landed on "Counter Oils". The click through display is also showing that you clicked "more" to arrive at the full description and usage page.
1.So it is very clear that you DID visit my site.
2. It doesn't appear in your supposed source material.

3. You say that you wouldn't take anything from anyone, but you stated yourself that you may have taken it from "5000 Spells", obviously contradicting yourself.Published works are still subject to copyright, and if you had ever actually used the oil, you wouldn't need to steal someone else's words.
4. No self respecting root-worker would ever put High John(or half the other ingredients you list) in Command and Compel, and stating that it is an "old family recipe" is clearly a falsehood. Especially when you have revealed the source material in your letter.
5. The phrase "like many other ipomoeas, some of which are psychedelic..." etc, is stolen straight from Lucky Mojo Curio Shop. Who exactly do you think you are fooling?

Your lack of honor and honesty goes without saying; It has been revealed in your every word and deed. I'm sure if I went through all of your listings, I would find another half dozen people you have ripped off. Karma indeed.
Take my description of off your page, and it will be considered 'substantial compliance'.

Oh, btw, I found her full name on her Witchvox account, we can't (and won't) track our visitors to THAT degree :P
It's been 2 days. She hasn't responded yet. Big surprise.
Scared that she was caught in the act? Who knows. I have spent too many years collecting, experimenting with, and refining formulas to have them stolen off my back. If someone actually had experience working with a particular formula or ingredient, they could relate personal experience/notes. Shouldn't a merchant (any merchant) have familiarity with their own product? Since then, she has removed the item from her shop. Meh.

In Black Magic pt. II, I related that I had a feeling that two issues, "Pagan Plagiarism", and "What Wicca can learn from Hoodoo" would be tied together. I guess this was just the manifestation of that intuition.

So, I honestly want feedback, why is plagiarism so rampant in the magical community?
Nearly every website listing magical herbs stole the correspondenses from Cunningham's "Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs", without a word of credit or source material. Sirona Knight was convicted of plagiarizing Freya Aswynn's work for the "
Little Giant Book of Runes (her response was hysterical, read it, please). Let's not forget the nonsense of Y Tylwyth Teg, who stole the bulk of their material from Francesca deGrandis, while simultaniously offering sex tours to Thailand.
It isn't just in the rarified world of Llewellyn authors (*cough*), but is plaguing the local levels as well.

The pattern that I'm noticing, honestly, is that the first people to scream "The Rede!!!" or "Karma!!!" or "The Secret!!!" are the most likely to perpetuate this, the greatest threat to our community, ever.
Think I'm exaggerating? Consider this: Imagine that you've spent the majority of your life sincerely pursuing a path, deeply studying and practicing it. You've written something original to help others on the path. And someone cashes in on your work, waters it down, and combines it with 'Egyptian Shamanism' and their channeled spirit guides (i.e, the voices in their head told them to do it), or something equally trite. What is the point of being original or creative if someone is just going to steal it a month later!?

And this is how we die as a community. This is how we come to distrust one another, because so many are not worthy of trust.
This has been a very long post, and for that, I apologize. If you have read this far, I thank you. Something had to be said, and something has to be done.



Anonymous said...

There are plagurists everywhere! They are so sickening. Toni Silvano actually plagurised me word for word, and went so far as to claim that copyright is not enforcable off of the internet.

LOL on the "Its an Illika," as Illika's book has a bunch of fake Herman Slater formulas in well, I don't know I'd claim I took anything from her. I love that book, but I also have found a lot wrong with it...such as the inclusions of Slater's formulas. ;) Plus, did she say she plagurised Illika? Is that what was implied?

Gotta love the reaction on these so non-original people when they steal from your blog, eh?

Lodestone and Ladys Mantle said...

Yeah, she said she got the formula from Book of 5000 spells.Here's the kicker: she changed the description when I called her on it, but she also took the list of ingredients down. Shes still selling it as "Command and Compel" though. Arrgh!

Keep fighting the good fight, though, right? ;)

Lodestone and Ladys Mantle said...

oops, forgot to mention: She didn't steal it from my blog, she stole it from my SHOP. Stealing my ideas, words, and customers!
While I love it when magical practitioners want to make their own stuff, I've been more than hesitant to post formulas anywhere. I've researched and tested every formula I do have for years, and with plagiarism being so rife within the community, my years of experience and HARD work getting stolen off my back is NOT gonna happen.

When I run across a site or blog that has stolen information (I can usually spot it), I contact the owner, even if it isn't my work. The only way this kind of behavior is going to stop is if these people know that someone is watching. Hate being the Pagan Police, but...ugh.

Dragonpearl said...

My opinion on the rampant plaggerism is that everyons is trying to make a quick buck and don't want to have to work for it. As a result true lightworkers like yourself get the shaft.