As you probably already know, Everything Under the Moon is a great source of information for our members, since as a community we often share interesting information, answer each other questions, and discuss our spiritual practice. Oftentimes, we want to get as much information in one place as we can, for easy reference, which is absolutely understandable (this is especially true for the Members' Book of Shadows forum, which is an alternative to a physical Book of Shadows for many). However, please keep in mind that even though much of this information is offered across the internet for free, it is still owned by the original author. This is called copyright.
Copyright is defined as
(Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/copyright)the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
See how I placed the source of my information next to the quote? This is called citing and it is very important to use citations when copying another person's work, words, ideas, etc. onto another medium (which includes your BoS). This is so I can avoid being accused of plagiarism, which is, put simply, the theft of intellectual property via republishing without giving due credit to the source of said property (i.e. information). Since that was in my own words, I have no need to put the source next to that definition. When you plagiarize another person's work, you can face a large number of consequences, depending on the severity of the copyright infringement (up to and including a fine and jail time). In regards to this forum, if you do not give proper credit to the sources you pull from, the site can be taken down.
So please, when you are copying and pasting information, PLEASE make sure that you are citing your source material. Here's how to make sure the content you post does not get you on the wrong side of the law:
1. When you are posting things you have written yourself (e.g. spells or rituals of your own creation), please mention somewhere in that post that they are your own original creations. If you like, you can indicate whether or not you are comfortable with other people copying and pasting your work, and how you would like to attributed.
2. When you find information written by other people that you would like to copy into your BoS, first scout around the website or the book to see if the author has written anywhere about whether or not it is okay to copy their material or how to attribute them properly if you borrow their work. Some authors don't mind if you copy and paste so long as you link back to the original source, or attribute their name to it. If you are in doubt, ASK THE AUTHOR. (yes, it's a hassle, but you can try emailing them and they can tell you if they are comfortable with you copying and pasting the information -- this is really the safest way!).
AT MINIMUM, WHEN YOU USE OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK, ALWAYS PROVIDE A LINK BACK TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE IF IT'S A WEBSITE OR WRITE WHAT BOOK THE INFORMATION IS FROM, INDICATE WHO THE AUTHOR IS, AND CLEARLY MARK WHAT YOU ARE QUOTING FROM THEM DIRECTLY. You should also never be copying more than a few paragraphs at a time; it is unacceptable to copy and paste pages' worth of other people's materials.
The moderators take these offenses seriously, and your account will be terminated if you are determined to be in violation of the rules repeatedly.
* Thanks to Heartsong, who co-authored this announcement.