Sevilla, Dome

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Masonic websites

I could also ask: when did you steal the last time?

Now, before you click away in your righteous indignation, hear me out: there are way more people, including Masons, stealing intellectual property than you’d ever think.

“No way! We, Masons are good men and we even make us/them better, we respect and obey the laws of the land (or so we promise in many jurisdictions) etc.” Maybe… However, out there in the wild west of the internet almost every other person is committing the felony of stealing intellectual property — or at least using it improperly, without permission.

Let me give you a simple example. Imagine you take a beautiful picture of a wonderful woman (or a cute cat or a funny puppy or just an amazing landscape). Then you publish it on a website and although there is a small link at the bottom of the page claiming the copyright of the text and images on the site… nobody ever reads it.

The copyright notice usually means that the photographer of the image owns the ‘rights to the said intellectual property’. It’s like the writer owns the copyright to his novel. The musician owns the copyright to his song. The painter owns the copyright to his painting. You own the copyright to that photo. I own the copyright to this text I am writing in this very moment: these are my own thoughts and I put them into a specific form (sentences and paragraphs) in a way that has never been done before. I do not own the copyright to the words… but I do own the copyright to this text, where the words put in this exact, specific order convey certain ideas of mine. Similarly, if I take my camera and go out on the street in my village, the pictures taken belong to me: I am the copyright holder for those pieces of intellectual property.

The concept is not something I came up with. There are national and international laws and agreements that regulate copyright issues related to artwork, writings, music, photo etc.

So, let’s go back to the picture mentioned above, the picture that the author puts on a website. Please, be aware, the fact that it was made visible for viewers like you, doesn’t mean the author/copyright holder gave up his rights. Just because a picture/photo is out there on the internet on a website, the copyright laws still apply. Copying, downloading and editing to your liking and then publishing it… is like taking a Shakespeare sonnet, changing a word or two and then publishing it under your own name! Would you do that? Of course, you wouldn’t. You are smarter than that.

Then why do we do it on every possible social media site on the internet? Stealing images from left and right and posting them all over the places. And the most amazing thing: when called out… then sheepishly talking about something else and calling names the person that warned us about the mistake.

Hovering the cursor above the images will reveal the caption — or you can click to see the full size images:

1. The images on the internet (unless in public domain) are not there for you to do whatever crosses your mind!
2. Copying, downloading and re-publishing those images without written permission of the copyright holder is against the law!
3. When we use an image, we must give the name of the author, the source, we must credit the artist, the copyright holder!

At least in the Masonic websites, there shouldn’t be stolen and improperly used images! Share this to enlighten your brethren!

Photos by the author, ©, All rights reserved.

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What was it that you stole last time?

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2 thoughts on “What was it that you stole last time?

  1. You published this link via a public domain site, ‘Masonic World Wide’. Whilst I appreciate and respect copy write, are your comments really copy writable when published publicly? I am being technical and personally would respect you position and at least give you the recognition you deserve by acknowledging the source.
    Also we face the problem of the differing intellectual laws that apply around the world. How do we encourage free flow of ideas/images/etc., and ‘pay our copy write dues’?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Ian! First of all a few clarifications:
      It is not copyWRITE (as in the process of writing something on a paper) — it is copyRIGHT: the author’s right to his/her intellectual property. The fact that the author owns his work.

      Sharing a post or even photo on a social media site (a.k.a. Facebook or Twitter etc.) does not nullify my intellectual property rights: the article that I wrote, together with the photos that I took during my trips are still owned by me. Or the website… but that’s just a technicality.

      And no, Facebook is NOT a “public domain site”; who told you it was? There is no such thing as “public domain site”. There is, however, public domain — meaning a work (=piece of intellectual property) has been placed or released into public domain. That would mean the users of such work don’t need to pay royalty to the author for using the said work; e.g. the orchestra doesn’t have to pay royalty to the composer for playing his composition. (Or when I released a photo to public domain on Wikipedia, showing the church in the village of my grandparents!)

      If you like to get technical: use the SHARE button on Facebook or “Retweet” on Twitter… instead of copy/paste, which is equal to stealing.

      We do not face the problem of differing intellectual laws, sorry. Since 1886 we have the Berne Convention, an international treaty about copyright.

      Again, if you share my work on social media sites by using the existing SHARE button there or at the bottom of this post, you are doing the right thing. You don’t have to pay anything.
      If you want to re-publish this article or any of my pictures on your own website (not on social media platforms!) — then you better ask my permission and I may charge my usual fee for a one-time use of my work. Without such permission I (and the courts) consider it copyright infringement and I can sue the person using my work. Or I may grant usage rights for free, if I am in a generous mood or if I find your website worthy of consideration. However – and here is what everybody misunderstands due to ignorance -, even if I grant the republishing rights, be it for payment or free, the COPYRIGHT is still mine, i.e. I own this intellectual property! In Canada as long as I am alive + 50 years after my death for my estate, my works are protected by the copyright laws. After that they will become “public domain” and anyone can freely use them. (Australia has similar laws)

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