A Lawyer’s Perspective on Why Copyright Infringement is So Hard to Fight

Terence Ward over at The Wild Hunt wrote a great piece, “You call it sharing but pagan authors call it stealing,” on copyright infringement in the pagan community and more specifically, pagans thinking it’s okay to upload the entire books of pagan authors and sharing it on Facebook.

A Facebook group called The Wiccan Circle has uploaded the digital files to hundreds maybe thousands of books by pagan authors and are disseminating those copyrighted books for free download. I wanted to get to the bottom of it on my own, so I put in a request to join the group. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been let in, hehe, so truth be told, at this point I don’t actually have any personal knowledge of the allegations. I’m relying entirely on Ward’s reporting of the facts.

For this particular post, I want to address why copyright infringement claims under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) are so difficult to follow through with, from a lawyer’s perspective. I’m a corporate transactions attorney who works in-house at a venture capital firm in the Silicon Valley, so I know my way around intellectual property law. I’ve tried major copyright infringement, trademark, and patent suits in both state and federal court, some of those cases making headlines in the news. I’ve worked in entertainment law and represented independent artists and writers against major production companies in Hollywood, major cosmetics companies, and more. That’s the background context I’m coming from in writing this post.

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On Tarot Reading Ethics, Part II: Third Party Readings and Onerous Clients

Deck Pictured: Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg (US Games)

I started a post series on tarot reading ethics last week and if you missed it, here is Part I on health, legal, and financial readings. I’ll be subdividing the discussion of tarot reading ethics into three parts. These posts will explore some of my personal thoughts and also professional opinions on certain oft-adopted ethical rules.

This is Part II of III, in which I’ll be tackling third party readings and reading for an onerous client.

7/11/17 Update: This is Part II of II only. I’ve decided against publishing Part III. Explanation at the end of the post.

7/18/17 Update: I’ve decided to proceed with sharing Part III, but it is a password-protected post. Please do not ping me with requests for the password. It is made available in closed circuits to those who have access to those circuits.

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On Tarot Reading Ethics, Part I: Health, Legal, and Financial Readings

Deck Pictured: The Awakened Soul Oracle by Ethony

Not one to miss a tarot bandwagon, I figured I’d work in my own thoughts, or at least a few of them, on tarot reading ethics. If you’ve been out of it all month and would now like to catch up on what the heck I’m talking about, check out this recording of a live episode of Spread This, Witches (STW), “The Ethical Tarot Reader,” featuring Allorah Rayne, Chase from Two of Owls, Nico of Scarlet Moon, Ethony, and hosted by Avalon. Ethony then put out this educational video, “Is Your Tarot Reader Scamming You?” to continue the conversation on tarot ethics. Chase also talked independently about the topic, starting a discussion vlog here, “Discussion: Tarot Ethics.” Allorah Rayne added more from her perspective here, on “Red Flags of Unethical Spiritual Practitioners.”

Here’s a Model Code of Ethical Conduct you can download and use in any way you like. A text version for you to edit and revise, and yes you are free to use, copy, or modify in any way whatsoever for your own personal or commercial uses is here, on my Holistic Tarot Study Guides page, under “Advanced.”

I’ll be subdividing this topic into three parts. These posts will explore some of my personal thoughts and also professional opinions on certain oft-adopted ethical rules.

This is Part I of III, in which I’ll be tackling the question of reading for medical, legal, and financial concerns.

7/11/2017 Update: This is Part I of II only. I’ve decided against publishing Part III. Explained at the close of Part II.

7/18/17 Update: I’ve decided to proceed with sharing Part III, but it is a password-protected post. Please do not ping me with requests for the password. It is made available in closed circuits to those who have access to those circuits.

You often hear readers say that it’s against tarot ethics to do readings on health or legal questions. But why? Why are tarot readers discouraged from reading on health and legal issues?

It’s for legal reasons and, as far as I understand it, that’s pretty much the only reason. In most jurisdictions, there are codified laws against the “Unauthorized Practice of Medicine” and the “Unauthorized Practice of Law.” At best, it’s a misdemeanor and a fine of thousands of dollars. At worst, either one could be charged as a felony and carry several years of jail time. To get charged with such an offense would be the worst day of your tarot reading life.

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General Readings and Specific Readings

Deck Pictured: The Dark Tarot

The issue of general readings versus specific readings is pertinent to most divinatory forms, whether we’re talking tarot, astrology, the I Ching, or even in terms of configurations for feng shui analysis. Rather than frame this post as general commentary, I want to talk about my personal approach, and since most of the divinatory work I do for people are in the modes of tarot and astrology, that’s what I’ll focus on.

Let’s start with my definitions.

A general reading is when a seeker doesn’t have a cogent, cohesive question to present for divination, but just wants insight for moving forward at the particular juncture point the seeker is at. For example, a seeker sits down in front of a tarot reader and the reader simply begins casting cards and reporting back what the reader interprets from the cards. Another example is a solar returns or birthday chart reading in astrology. A reading service such as a twelve-month forecast is also considered a general reading. In theory for a general reading, any subject matter that comes up in the reading is game.

A specific reading is when a seeker has a question in mind that is narrowly tailored and will require a direct, responsive answer. For example, the seeker wants to know about romantic prospects up ahead, or which career path to take, or which of three possible office site locations would be optimal for setting up a business. Here, even a broadly-cast inquiry such as “just whatever comes up that’s money related in my life” is an inquiry I’ll tuck under the category of a specific reading.

One more point before we proceed. To debate which is better, general reading or specific reading methods, is absurd. Readers also come with different strengths. No reader is all-powerful. Some excel at the general reading. Others excel at the specific reading. Play to your own strengths. That’s all there is to it.

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Promotional Tactics That Worked and the Ones That Didn’t (For Me)

When you’re running a personal venture that’s heavily reliant on e-commerce, and you’re a small potato like me operating said venture out of your home in your pajamas, with a full face of makeup and nice shirt on only when you’re making a video, choosing which promotional tactics to work on can be hard and–for my fellow professional tarot readers–a very Seven of Cups sort of inquiry. You can’t do it all, because it’s just you. So how do you channel your marketing energies in the most productive way? I can’t answer that question for you, but I’ll share with you my experiences on what worked and what didn’t.

This post will address sponsored ads on Facebook, advertising via your own social media platforms and social media in general, blogging or vlogging content, newsletters or direct mailings, local bulletin boards, and giving away free stuff.

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My Go-To Knick Knacks in a Reading Space

Sandalwood mala prayer beads and a smoky quartz cintamani stone.

My earliest memory of a psychic reading was in Taiwan with a nun at a monastery that my aunt, who is a nun, resided at. (Do I still refer to her as my aunt if she’s now a nun? I have no idea…) When you’re an Asian kid, grown-ups, especially grown-ups of the holy variety, don’t have names. They only have titles. So in Chinese, since we only spoke to her in Chinese, she was Shi Fu, or Teacher, and in English, privately amongst ourselves, she was The Psychic Nun. The aunt who is a nun is Auntie Nun. Auntie Nun is a little bit psychic while The Psychic Nun was full-on knew-your-past-life and knew-your-future psychic plus could-speak-to-the-dead so also medium. The Psychic Nun is referred to in the past tense because she’s no longer with us. I heard of her passing a few years after my maternal grandmother’s passing. It’s okay. She was like a billion years old already anyway and with all that good karma, is off to somewhere awesome.

Anyway, that introduction was way off-track from the subject matter of this post. This post is about go-to knick knacks in a tarot or divinatory reading space. I’m not asking about what you need to get your read on (because inevitably some holier-than-thou advanced tarot reader master will pipe up and say, “I don’t need anything but the power of my mind… I am not bound to materialism… toot toot“)–right, right, we all know that. But I’m asking what kind of knick knacks do you like in your reading space. I don’t need a pink toothbrush for effective dental hygiene but I like it when my toothbrush is pink, so I have a pink toothbrush. Get it?

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Tarot and Shadow Work for Activating Dynamic Power

$28

At Tarot Summer School 2017

To enroll in the course for $28, click the above button or click here to go to the Tarot Summer School landing page and check out my course offering, “Tarot and Shadow Work for Activating Dynamic Power.”

Course Objective:

To strengthen your personal vitality and the reservoir of metaphysical powers you can command or control, through attunement to those inner and outer alchemical forces embedded into the archetypal tarot architecture.

Course Description:

We often hear about using tarot for shadow work. This course takes that concept a step further to address how tarot and shadow work can be utilized to cultivate dynamic personal power. The more personal power you wield, the greater likelihood of success you’ll enjoy in achieving your goals. To break vicious cycles that hold you down and to overcome that which haunts you, you need force. You can summon that force from within you and to navigate that inner landscape of yours in search of your powers, we use the tarot.

The course addresses how to source power from five specific inner reservoirs, corresponding with the architecture of tarot, which are as follows:

  • Expert or authoritative power, which we harness through Fire;
  • The power of charisma, or appeal, harnessed through Water;
  • The power of punishment to reinforce your personal sovereignty, harnessed through Air;
  • The power of reward, or building relations, harnessed through Earth; and
  • The power of change, or the power of esoteric knowledge, harnessed by attuning to Spirit.

The tarot will be used as an anchoring and centering tool for navigating the inner landscape in search of those five reservoirs of power. We can also better understand these five powers of social psychology through the Major Arcana and the four suits of the Minor Arcana.

We will cover both the psychological and the metaphysical facets of these powers and how you can activate them by navigating your shadow landscape with the tarot. Overcome lack mentality. the pain of failure, recurring underachievement, fear, inertia, and insecurity by activating these five powers that are just beyond the nether regions of your own mind and will.

Tarot, social psychology, chakra strengthening, self-reflection, personal ritual, spell-crafting, and basic East Asian Qi energy work will be covered. The course content delves unabashedly into faith-based material.

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Announcing the Video Companion Course to Holistic Tarot

B A C K G R O U N D   N O T E S

Some of you may know of the online video companion course to Holistic Tarot already. I put out the first few video lectures for the series this past week. The videos supplement the study guides and handouts, which supplement the book, Holistic Tarot. To check out the course outline and description, click on the above hyperlinked banner. This blog post is just to offer some of the behind-the-scenes commentary.

Offering a Beginner’s Tarot Course

I have been pressed ad nauseum about offering a beginner’s tarot course. While I haven’t felt called to start production of materials with that specific intent in mind, as in an online multi-media course that teaches you how to read a deck of cards, I wrote Holistic Tarot with that specific intent (i.e., to instruct on tarot at the beginner level) in mind. Then when the book launched back in 2015, I created a portfolio of syllabi, study guides, and handouts to help people navigate the 800+ pages. That was my “beginner’s tarot course.”

Still I got pressed. Apparently that wasn’t what many of you folks had in mind when you think “beginner’s tarot course”?

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Triple Goddess Tarot by Jaymi Elford and Franco Rivolli

If you haven’t watched the episode of ArwenTalks where Arwen Lynch interviews author and deck creator Jaymi Elford about the Triple Goddess Tarot, then do so right now. It’s a fantastic interview and Jaymi gives you incredible insights into her deck creation process. I count Jaymi as one of the tarot community folks I’m closest to, so I’ll disclose the potential bias upfront. I adore her, so it’s going to be a bit hard for me to not by extension naturally adore everything she does. However, I’ll try my best to remain neutral and objective. I’ll even throw in some criticism. Promise.

The deck is produced by Lo Scarabeo with art by Franco Rivolli, an Italian illustrator who produces some of the world’s best pagan-inspired art. So the Elford-Rivolli team is going to be a powerhouse. The color palette was well thought out, as you can see above, and I love how Triple Goddess uses the structure of tarot to tell the story of the Triple Goddess, an archetypal motif found across many cultures, East and West, and not just in specific strands of pagan faiths.

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