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En: What was it that you stole last time?

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What was it that you stole last time?

From Istvan Horvath

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

  • Masonic websites – disaster or not?
  • What was it that you stole last time?
  • Copyright and the social media

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.


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!



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