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Copyrights and Mediumship



Copyright and the Other Worlds

There is a rather unique quandry with copyright and channeled works, the purported author does not live on planet earth and as such does not enjoy the benefits of legal protection. This has been brought out in recent legal decisions such as those for Urantia and A Course in Miracles. In the case of Urantia the source is presumably an extra-terrestrial being, while the ACIM is said to be dicated by the spirit of Jesus. The Urantia case has been going on for over 30 years. Appeals to the recent ACIM decision could keep it in litigation as well. For a commentary on the Urantia case see Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery by Martin Gardner.

Several approaches are adopted by authors/channelers.

1) Channeled works may be issued as anonymous or with only the name of the unembodied being (and not of the channel) in the absence of any copyright marking. The anonymous British title Christ in You falls in this niche.

2) The author may leave their name off the work, but place it on a copyright office form in the hopes no one will challenge the legality of that act. So far the courts have invalidated the copyrights for the Urantia and ACIM cases where this was done.

3) The author may include the channeled material along with personal commentary, history, etc. composed by the channel in the conscious state thus giving clear legal title to the work as a whole to the author. Those portions of the work that were channeled are still up in the air in this case. A great number of channeled titles that come out nowadays take this approach.

4) The author may keep the source of the knowledge a secret and paraphrase it such as Stewart White's very early and now forgotten work Why Be A Mud Turtle. In later years he acknowedged his wife's psychic abilities in a number of much better books.

5) The author may take the channeled material and extensively edit the wording so as to amplify the aesthetic appeal of the content. William Butler Yeats' A Vision would be good example

6) The author may make no direct claim about the source or may claim inspired authorship, i.e. the ideas came from spirit, but the words and phrasing came from the mind of the author. The Conversations with God books may fall in this category.

7) The author may throw humility to the wind and lie about the authorship.

Problems can develop later for publishers that think works from other realms represent high wisdom and need to be kept in print. The heirs or executors of such works may have unanticipated earthly concerns. What if progeny become born again Christians and think these are works of the devil or are just embarassed by the taint of family psychism? What happens if a foundation who owns the copyright elects not to keep all such works from its benefactor in print, but just one or two best-sellers? About 100 new channeled works are published each year and it is unlikely that the true and full intent of either the unembodied entity or the channeler are expressed in the copyright notice. There is a movement afoot emanating from Stanford by the distinguished professor Lawrence Lessig, author of Free Culture and promotor of the Creative Commons copyright licencing concept.

Some of the academic implications of dual authorship are discussed in works such as Writing double: women's literary partnerships by Bette Lynn London by and other books cited by Professor Helen Sword.

A simple check of U.S. copyright renewal status can be done at ibiblio.org. More complete information is available in books like:

The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More by Stephen Fishman, Nolo Press, 2004

Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off by Richard W. Stim, Nolo Press, 2004

The copyright permission and libel handbook : a step-by-step guide for writers, editors, and publishers by Lloyd J Jassin & Steven C Schechter,Wiley, 1998.

Copyright law is in a great state of flux due to heavy lobbying by the RIAA. There is an mp3 audio interview about this with Lawrence Lessig at DigitalVillage.org.


Free Downloads of Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig

You can listen to or download free copies of his new book in many convenient formats including two Macintosh friendly versions: FreeCulture.txt and FreeCulture.sit. The .txt version lets you create your own type size and margins for ease of reading in most text and word processors. The .sit is the .txt version compressed with Stuffit 5.0

More versions are available here

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