As most readers of this blog are aware, copyright is a subject near and dear to me, and has been for several years. In my professional life, I depend on copyright to make my living (I'm a programmer for those unaware), and am fairly well versed in the legal aspects of the subject, though IANAL.
Everything one writes (publication aside) is considered copyrighted, and republication without permission of the copyright holder, whether for profit or not, is a criminal matter.
That being said, I believe that copyright will prove to be one of the greatest obstacles to the spread of heathenry if we collectively do not understand it, and continue to stand by it for matters of our writings and other works.
We (heathens) are a small group - no matter how you count us or whom you include as "us". The market for our written works is correspondingly tiny. Yet we are a scholarly lot, with a lot to say, and we produce (relatively) massive amounts of work analyzing and translating our lore, giving vision and voice to our worldview.
But look at the sales ranking on Amazon for our works. See how many of our most important books are available in your local public library. How much money has anyone made writing serious heathen tomes? Even the academics that are not heathen do not live by sales of their works: they'll all professors caught in the publish or perish world of the ivory tower.
This leads to an important side effect - how many of our organizations give away books (or even expanded pamphlets) at fairs, gatherings or moots? None - because none can afford to purchase the works from the author or artist, in additional to paying for printing or distribution. We have no organizations like the Gideons, passing out our lore or Eddas, because none of the modern translations of our lore are free from copyright.
How much different would Christian evangelical efforts look if they asked for a set price for the literature they drop off on nearly everyone's doorstep?
I'm not proposing that we go door to door with the Eddas and door hangers proclaiming that "Odin Hung on the Worldtree for YOUR Runes!" - I am proposing that our authors and artists, our scholars and godmen, loosen up on the copyright of their works and allow free distribution. This single step alone, in my humble opinion, would do more to "spread the word" than anything else we could do, while keeping us free from the taint of proselytizing.
I would suggest that we (as heathen authors and artists) look at what our real motivations are. Are we writing to earn a living? Some of us are, especially those of us who are established authors of fiction. Most of us are not. Most of us write (or paint, or draw, or sing and make music) out of our love for the Shining Gods and Goddesses, and out of a desire that our names be remembered in the long years that follow as one of those who first led the Folk back to the Tru path.
"Fair fame never dies for he who has earned it."
To that end, I have placed all of my written and recorded works into a Creative Commons attribution and share-alike style license. (In some cases, mostly from the early Nineties, I wrote my own, but would suggest others visit the Creative Commons or GNU Documentation sites for more information and a wider range of licenses). This includes all of my posts here, in other forums and on our personal site. Those words of mine which are unmarked I have insured are in the public domain, and can be copied, resued, mashedup and remixed at will.
My goal here is not my enrichment in Midgard - my goal is that all of Midgard will once again hear our voices from the North, and consider what they mean and can do. And hopefully remember my name as one of those who played a small part in our renaissance.
I ask all heathen authors and artists to consider this position.