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Topic: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine
Message: Posted by: russ stevens (Aug 6, 2009 10:01AM)
Hello Everyone,

Over the past few days there have been numerous threads on various magic forums regarding Shawn Farquhar and “his” Shape of My Heart routine. I am writing this letter openly as I want everyone to know my side of things. These are the facts…

In 1993 I was starring in The Mystique Illusion Show here in the UK. In the March of that year I created a routine using the Sting track “Shape of My Heart” and performed it on national TV (BBC1) twice, during the following few months. The routine was extremely well received and became something that I use as a piece to this day. Some magicians in the UK became aware of my routine and several people asked for permission to take that idea and use it for themselves. All understood completely when I said I’d rather if they didn’t.

By 2005 I had released a DVD through my production company Russ Stevens Video Productions (RSVPMagic) called “Magic’s Biggest Secret” which dealt with the business of working on cruise ships. Featured on this DVD was my “Shape of My Heart” routine. During that time I had heard from friends that Shawn Farquhar was asking if they knew Russ Stevens and that I had stolen his idea. I immediately emailed him and told him this wasn’t the case. He said that it was obviously just a case of independent creation. I took his word for it at the time and why shouldn’t I have?

More recently, over the past year or so, things have been said that made me start to doubt that this was completely correct. Shawn Farquhar has said that he came up with the idea at the same time and on the Genii Forum wrote:

“I have however been doing the routine just as long as Russ and it is quite apparent we came up with our presentation completely on our own”.

This is not true. Shawn has stated that his ‘inspiration’ for the routine came when he saw the Luc Besson movie “Leon” (aka “The Professional”). The movie featured the music. This movie was not released until November 1994, one and a half years after I started performing my routine using that piece of music. Again, this is a fact.

Moving on now to the Blackpool Convention in 2008, Shawn Farquhar performed his routine on the Saturday Gala Show. I hadn’t seen the routine live before and the experience made me feel very uncomfortable (along with several people I know that also watched the same performance).

Recently a rather important piece of information has been passed onto me from a well respected magician, about a VHS promotional tape of mine that ended up in Vancouver in the mid-nineties.

I had given a PAL VHS tape (UK format) as a gift to a magician who had seen my show and who I met in a local magic shop a few days later. It was my promotional tape and featured my entire “Shape of My Heart” routine as a main piece. The gentleman who had the tape (who lived in Vancouver) decided to get it converted from PAL to NTSC (the USA format). It turns out that Shawn Farquhar offered to pay half the cost of the conversion, so that they could both have a copy of the tape to watch. The gentleman said that he has felt guilty ever since, and that he thinks it is time for Shawn to own up.

I have no reason to disbelieve this person and he has nothing to gain from telling me this.

So, when did Shawn Farquhar actually really create his routine? I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t when I did as he has claimed in the past. He had a copy of that VHS tape all along, but never mentioned it at any time during our emails.

Since Shawn Farquhar was voted FISM World Champion I have been inundated with emails from people that knew my routine. They sent me links to various blogs and more. People clearly feel very strongly about this whole situation.

A few days ago I made the decision to contact Tim Ellis because I knew Tim as someone that stood up against this kind of thing. That, it turns out, was my mistake, as I didn’t know at the time he was a FISM judge and a good friend of Shawn Farquhar. I was asking him in a private way, what he thought I should do about this whole situation but within hours he had posted a blog trying to wash over any problem, despite my email, and he defended the situation by saying “Unfortunately, some people are taking the accusations seriously”. All of this without even having seen my original version at that time!

I responded on a few forums as my name was getting mentioned. Tim has quoted me out of context, and has even tried to end a thread by quoting only a partial part of a private email to him.

The only reason for this post is to finally put my side of things out in the open. I was the one that contacted Shawn Farquhar and he was the one that was saying I had copied his idea. People say they are not the same, but obviously Shawn Farquhar thought they were too close for comfort too.

It’s not about whether I am back-palming and he’s doing the Ambitious Card, as both routines are fairly standard in their techniques. What takes this routine to another level is its staging, framing and theatricality. It is a piece of theatre.

I have no interest in entering magic competitions or being the king of self-promotion. I am not jealous of Shawn Farquhar. All I have ever wanted was for people to know that I was the first, not the copy, and that is what I am doing here.

The one undeniable fact is that I was doing this way before him and when he became aware of that fact, he still continued to promote the routine as being his creation and used it as his signature piece. I don’t think that’s right. He saw my performance on a converted VHS tape all those years ago, and simply reworked it. That’s not good. To then enter the routine into FISM even worse.

As for me… No awards, no ********, no thieving… just a guy that loves magic.

Best,
Russ (Stevens)

I have no intention of contacting Shawn Farquhar directly again as previous emails have proved it to be a pointless and empty experience.
Message: Posted by: Stanyon (Aug 6, 2009 10:25AM)
So what you're saying Russ is that you are not going to hold your breath waiting for Shawn to send you the trophy.

I was fortunate enough to have been in England at the time your creation was shown on BBC1 and later when I saw Shawn perform "his" routine I thought "Whoa! I think I've seen something similar to this before!"

Nice job Russ!

Cheers! ;)
Message: Posted by: Payne (Aug 6, 2009 11:40AM)
I could see where one routine might have been inspired by the other but the two performances are completely, apart from the song, different.

The staging and framing too are completely different. Russ's framing focuses both on the performer and the cards while Shawn's is completely focused on his hands and the cards. Even when performed live this is the case as the audience is completely focused on the big screen display showing Shawn's hands. He even takes advantage of this fact with the card in the mouth revelation. So the argument about them both being too similar theatrically is just as weak as the argument that Shawn somehow stole this routine.

I just don't see it myself
Message: Posted by: mumford (Aug 6, 2009 12:26PM)
Does anyone remember last year when Russ published a Mel Mellers DVD with a carbon copy reinvention that belonged to Steve Spill? Unfortunately like this incident, in that case it is assumed that Russ was also victim and didn't know the routine belonged to someone else, but he did the right thing by editing it out of the DVD. But it's odd in life how history sometimes repeats itself in strange ways.
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=254862&forum=177&start=30
Message: Posted by: russ stevens (Aug 6, 2009 12:34PM)
Hi Mumford,

Yes, you're quite right about the Mel Mellers situation. It was I who contacted Bob Kohler, after Seth Kramer informed me of the situation and it was I who immediately withdrew the DVD from the market. It was re-issued without the offending routine. That was the right thing to do.

I think that should tell you something about me as a person.

Best,
Russ
Message: Posted by: mumford (Aug 6, 2009 12:43PM)
Sorry you have to endure bad luck on both ends of the equation.
Message: Posted by: Shawn Farquhar (Aug 6, 2009 01:30PM)
What a difference a week makes. A few day ago I was surrounded by friends and colleagues as I experienced a dream come true. Now all that seems so distant.

I am writing from China where I have been since FISM. Internet here is censored and I have been quite busy working on projects here in Asia and spending time with my Wife and Daughter.

I am unable to view most of the sites I normally access like Facebook and YouTube. I have however received a number of emails from friends posting a link to a blog where I am being attacked not only for my magic but for who I am.

I cannot reply to this blog as it is blocked here in China, but with the help of a friend I am able to read the writings of this vicious individual and his friends with no credentials other than their right to use the internet. I will make no comments to these people as that would only help them in their quest for celebrity.

I will how ever address others who have posted in this thread and the blog with the truth and not the fiction that has been left unchallenged until now.

Jim McDonald:

First congratulations for championing what you believe is a mis-justice, no matter how misguided.

On the blog you wrote:

[i]"...you really can't compare Shawn to other FISM winners such as Fred Kaps." [/i]

You are absolutely correct. No one can compare to Fred Kaps ... that's why he won three Grand Prix's. duh!

Next you wrote later on iTricks:

[i]"This IS a serious issue as we have a well known magician winning the biggest award in magic with a routine that he saw somebody else do, and is really taking us ALL FOR FOOLS." [/i]

This is a lie. I had never seen Russ perform his routine until years after I had established a reputation with mine and was confronted by a number of British magicians who accused me of stealing Russ's routine following my performance at FFFF in New York. They in fact said the routine was identical and that I was a thief. I immediately contacted Russ Stevens to confront him as I believed he had stolen my routine based on the information I was given by his friends. I sent Russ a video link to my performance and he suggested I buy his newly released DVD on the Biggest Secrets of Magic which included a performance video of his routine. I bought the DVD and watched his routine which had nothing in common other than the music and a stool (which by the way I did not use at FISM 2009). I wrote Russ and said it was obvious he had never seen mine and he agreed that I had not seen his either and it was a simple matter of independent creation. I though the mater had ended. Over the years I have corrected friends who have called or emailed to tell me of Russ and his theft of my routine. In each Case I explained how we had independently created the routines and were OK, with each others use of the same song with different routines and that Russ was not a thief, but an ethical magician.

Mr. McDonald also made a post in regards to my getting standing ovations on the ship using the song "stand up for the champions" by Right Said Fred. My friend and I are having problems finding the post anymore so I suspect it my have been removed... hmmm

Regardless:

Your friend, who recently cruised on NCL, is either mistaken, lying or a figment of your own imagination. The video you viewed on YouTube with the music of Right Said Fred is only for promotional purposes. That music has NEVER been used to close a single show in my professional career. Anyone who has actually witnessed my show will tell you this is a fact and that you, your friend or your imagination is fabricating a lie to fuel your initial anger at me for an act you accuse me of committing that is just as false. I have in fact received over 500 standing ovations onboard the vessel of Norwegian Cruise line and the only reason they stood was they felt compelled to because of a connection I made with my audience and my unique style of performance of magic.

dfield wrote:

[i]"However, this should not be about a persons personality. We can't like everybody or their style of performance.

We are getting away from the main point. Did FISM award first place to somebody who took an idea from another person.

Many people are getting caught up in the personality of Shawn Farquhar. This has nothing to do with his character. It has to do with his routine winning first place at FISM. " [/i]

You are right. This should not be about personalities. Yet I have been called "hubristic ***", "self-opinionated ****face", "grinning, presumptuous ***' and my favorite "waste of humanity". I am saddened that these comments will be forever available on the internet.

FISM awarded me a prize for an original routine that involved multiple decks switches, an ambitious card routine to music which I have performed for fourteen years and my signed card in sealed deck effect which was inspired by the original plot of the Dean of American Magicians, George Schlinder.

korttihai_82 wrote this interesting post and noted he was fellow Fin and felt his friend, Kristina Nivala should have won:

[i]"Its also worth noting that in everything, there is also lots of politics going on. Farquhar has been 2nd in FISM for at least 3? times??? He has won pretty much every competition out there and last year he has been in pretty much every possible magic convention known to a man just to make sure he is known... Its worth noting that when "magic superstar" meets "not so well known" guys in competitions, do you really expect that they will get same judging..." [/i]

I resent that you think politics had anything to do with the contest. I have "won pretty much every competition out there" but have lost ones too, such as the IBM/SAM last year in Louisville. I laughed out loud when you wrote "magic superstar". Are you implying that the other competitors are the "not so well known" guys? Backstage on my preliminary day was a who's who's of outstanding acts who I am proud to call friends. In fact it looked like the dressing room of the Ron McMillian contest in December. As an aside I would like to publicly state ... your friend Kristian is an excellent magician and a fellow 4F'er and I wish him nothing but the best in the future.

And now for the one you have all been waiting for ...

Russ Stevens:

Russ wrote on the Café:

[i]"Shawn did NOT come up with his routine when I did. The fact is, that I was doing this routine for at least TWO years before him and have the proof to back that up. Shawn was very nice in his emails and I accepted that we'd just had the same presentational idea ..." [/i]

Russ I never claimed to performing to Sting's song for as long as you. I understand from our emails that you found the song on the CD which I believe came out in 1993. I discovered the song on a video of the movie Leon which was sometime in the Spring of 1995. I did not see the movie in a theatre but rented the video. This makes your discovery earlier than mine. What I have said repeatedly is that I found the music and created my routine independently and in fact years before I had ever even heard of you.

In a new thread on the Café dated August 6, 2009 you have written:

[i]"The gentleman who had the tape (who lived in Vancouver) decided to get it converted from PAL to NTSC (the USA format). It turns out that Shawn Farquhar offered to pay half the cost of the conversion, so that they could both have a copy of the tape to watch. The gentleman said that he has felt guilty ever since, and that he thinks it is time for Shawn to own up." [/i]

I know nothing of this and in fact owned a PAL/NTSC conversion machine through most of the nineties (in fact it is still in my spare bedroom), so why would I offer to pay to have something converted? Who is this well respected person you are being so cryptic about?

You then write:

[i]"I have no intention of contacting Shawn Farquhar directly again as previous emails have proved it to be a pointless and empty experience." [/i]

Russ, I have replied with honesty and integrity to every email sent by you.

Russ wrote on iTricks:

[i]"Tim knows full well that what I was saying was that I wasn’t the one making the accusations at the time, it was Shawn Fawquar that was doing that. Therefore, unlike you Tim, he obviously thought they were close enough too." [/i]

No Russ I did not think they were close enough. In fact I was told by your friends at the FFFF convention that the routines were identical. I had never seen or heard of you for that matter! I contacted you based on their statements and soon discovered the routine had nothing similar other than the use of the same music. As I wrote above I thought we had settled this dispute. In fact you wrote, "I wouldn't want to ever fall out, and of course, as discussed before, I know that we've simply had the same presentational idea. In fact when a few people first told me of yours, I checked out what you were doing and found it to be obviously different to the extent that a rip-off wouldn't do." Now you appear to be upset that I used my routine to compete and win an award. You have also since written you were uncomfortable by my use of a stool ... what?


On the Café you wrote:

[i]"... what really lifts them above the norm IS the staging and use of the music. To not understand that, it to not understand the performance of magic. I'd also like to point out that even Shawn considered the routines were too close as it was he who initially was accusing me." [/i]

First you are correct in the fact the staging and music are what make our routines. It is also true that our staging is different as pointed out above. As to your claim the I consider our "routines were too close". Nothing is further from the truth and I believed I cleared that up in paragraph above.


In response to Tim Ellis you wrote:

[i]"The only time I've publicly spoken about this was because of Shawn's comments about me to friends at conventions accusing me of copying his idea. I'm completely 100% ethical and the thought of anyone watching my routine and thinking I had stolen Shawn's horrifies me. I suppose at least people now know the truth." [/i]

Your post implies that I have made the accusation of theft more than once. You and I are both aware that I have only accused you once and that was when your friends accused me of theft at the FFFF convention. We communicated via email and you indicated all was well. I too am 100% ethical and to read your post that claims I have repeatedly accused you is wrong and you should clarify this in your reply to this post. This is not the act of an honest person. This post is deceptive and wrong.


Russ also wrote:

[i]"when I did finally see his version 'live' in Blackpool a few years ago, the style of performance and staging was uncomfortably close." [/i]

Russ there is nothing close about yours and my style of performance. As for staging I use a giant screen, a video camera, a signed card and sit to the extreme left of the stage. I have never seen you perform 'live' but from the DVD you suggested I buy and the YouTube video you posted it appears you sit center stage, use an unsigned card, no screen nor camera and have a card sword as a finale.

In a reply to Tim Ellis you wrote:

[i]"I wouldn’t expect 2,000 people cheering Shawn’s win to be shouting my name. Shawn has spent the last ten years promoting this routine as his signature piece, despite knowing about mine and I’m just setting the record straight." [/i]

My math shows that I have been presenting the routine for closer to fourteen years and it is my signature piece. Your routine is yours and you can promote it as you feel, but mine is mine. Original and independent of you. I'm just setting the record straight. Since our initial confrontation I have never said you are not entitled to your presentation. To do so would be wrong, as it is for you to say the same to me.

[i]"Unlike you guy’s, I’m not a serial magic competitor and unlike you guy’s, I don’t feel the need to mention my achievements to anyone that’ll listen. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-promotion, but as I told you before Tim, that’s just not my style. I’ve worked as a professional magician for over thirty-two years and have always let my work speak for itself. I’ve had no shortage of that, so I guess I must be doing something right." [/i]

I wasn't aware that I was a "serial magic competitor". I have done my share of contests but since 2003 I have been in just five. Unlike you I do feel the need to promote my accomplishments which allows me to ask high fees and work where and when I want, so I guess I must be doing something right.

Finally you wrote:

[i]"Since Shawn's win, I've been shocked by the number of emails I've received and some of the aggressive feelings that were vented towards him. People have sent links and even photographs with cartoon bubbles, which I believe have been doing the rounds. Personally, I just feel sorry for the guy." [/i]

I too would be shocked if I were to receive emails from people with aggressive feelings being vented at an individual who does not deserve their wrath. You could easily have stated the truth and facts as I have laid them out and the issue would be mute. Personally, you should feel sorry.


Russ, you closed your post with this paragraph:

[i]"I don't even dream of comparing myself to such a great technician and creator as people like Roy Walton, but like him I also smile when doing my DVD productions, working with great people who I consider real friends, performing and have a great life with someone that I truly love. No awards, no bulls**t, no thieving. Just a guy that loves magic." [/i]

I'm not sure why Mr Walton's name was brought into this discussion? I too would never compare myself to such a brilliant magician and man. I just recently had the chance to meet him in person and loved the time we spent together. Just like you and Roy Walton, I love performing, creating and sharing my magic. My Wife, Daughter and I travel the globe, get paid to do what we love ... lots of awards, no bulls**t, no thieving.

I'm not sure why you have decided now to protest something you had already settled. Your emails to me seemed civil and understanding. I heard nothing from you when I competed in 2006 in Sweden with the routine. Suddenly, after I win this award and am being attacked by a small group of vicious bloggers, you choose to open a discussion you basically closed. Why would you not have address this when I saw you at Blackpool?

I want to thank the people, friends and strangers, who have stepped forward to defend me in this forum. I am touched by the hundreds of communiqués of support.

I have spent my life as a magician trying to do the best I can. Not every show is my best but I strive to improve and elevate the art I love. I do not tear down others. A friend recently told me that "burning down your neighbors home, doesn't make yours look better." To those that think otherwise ... nothing I can say or do will change you.

Sincerely,

Shawn Farquhar


p.s Please be patient with the length of time for my replies as I am moving throughout Asia and internet will continue to be limited.


[i]"Card magic is a pretty standard category. But Shawn Farquhar from Canada provided an interesting twist on the genre, that was both flawless and beyond imagination." [/i] CCTV - China FISM 2009
Message: Posted by: MagicMichealMan (Aug 6, 2009 02:09PM)
Wow, I never thought that a grate magician like shawn farquhar after just winning an award he deserved would get trashed.

I have read threads before and it seemed to have say you 2 agreed that they were different routines.

When I first herd the song, before I saw shawn or russ do it, I thought it would be AWESOME to make a card routine to. It just naturally comes to thought.

It's like magicians doing the linking rings, same items, sometimes with music sometimes talking, but they are 2 completely different routines.

but when it comes to an idea I don't think there is anyway you can rip off a thought, If I think of a routine, then find out its been done...I'll still do it, but differently, to make it my own. But because I thought of it, I want to use my ideas.

I think shawns routine is beautiful, my favourite routine in magic, I also think russ's routine is a work of art. But in my mind, completely different. the only similarities are the song, and the fact they use cards. other than that, they are 2 completely different performers, 2 completely different styles, and 2 brilliant minds. this just proves the old saying "great minds think alike"

Magic Mike
Message: Posted by: R Don (Aug 6, 2009 02:56PM)
In 1994 I was in England with Francis Martineau and Russ gave us a
copy of his promo tape It was in pal.The conversion to NTSC at
that time was more than I wanted to pay. So at a meeting a few months later ( could have been early 1995) I asked Shawn if he wanted to pay half; and we both ended up with a viewable copy.It is possible he had forgotten.I mean 14 years has passed.
Reg Donnelly
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Aug 6, 2009 03:33PM)
Other than the music.. I just don't see a lot of similarity between the two acts.
Message: Posted by: dfield (Aug 6, 2009 04:08PM)
Dodd, do you mean to tell me that if Shawn and Russ were on the same show - you would put both acts on together. I mean, the fact that they both sit on stool performing a card routine to Stings music in an intimate moment of magic - they aren't the same to you? I think to a lay audience they are exactly the same!

To Mr. Donnelly - it seems that you have been the key to this entire thing and finally the truth is now out there. I salute you sir for telling us the truth and it appears Mr. Farquhar had forgotten about the copy. I know this can happen because we can get too close to something and we honestly believe we came up with it. I hope now that Mr. Donnelly has jogged your memory you will at least credit Russ with being the originator of the SHAPE OF YOUR HEART card routine.
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Aug 6, 2009 04:29PM)
To quote my friend Craig Mitchell...

Music for both by Sting, otherwise:

Russ = back-palming and "staging, framing and theatricality"
Shawn = Ambitious Card and seated with video camera
Message: Posted by: EscapeMaster (Aug 6, 2009 04:47PM)
Oh, come on, show them to a spectator and they are the same -- except one routine ends with a card stab, one with the sealed deck (seen that idea before too...)
Message: Posted by: natmagic (Aug 6, 2009 04:50PM)
Dfield, to answer your question NO you couldn't put them on the same show because they are too similar in appearance. In music we call it Variations on a Theme. It now appears that the theme here was put together by Russ Stevens. The variation was done by Shawn Farquhar.

To RDon - your comment will no doubt jog Shawn's memory and I'm sure he will now acknowledge where he got the 'theme' from. He is a good person and perhaps it simply slipped his mind after 14 years.

Dodd - I love your podcast! although I don't agree with your comments, however, I respect we have different opinions on this issue - keep up the great work ...
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Aug 6, 2009 04:53PM)
Thanks Nat! I am the first one to accept correction if I am in error. I am certainly not claiming to be right, just offering my opinion from what I do remember of both acts. Maybe someone could post links to both videos for us to compare side by side instead of speculating on what "I remember" (or don''t) about a performance.
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Aug 6, 2009 05:38PM)
BTW.. on the non controversial side of FISM (so far...) I have just posted our chat with the new World Champion of Stage Magic SOMA! [url=http://www.magicnewswire.com] LISTEN HERE ! [/url]
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Aug 6, 2009 06:09PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-06 17:53, magicnewswire wrote:
Maybe someone could post links to both videos for us to compare side by side instead of speculating on what "I remember" (or don''t) about a performance.
[/quote]

[url=http://magicunlimited.typepad.com/magic_unlimited_with_elli/2009/08/stevens-vs-farquhar.html]--> Here's one page with both videos.[/url]

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Max Krause (Aug 6, 2009 08:00PM)
I too had the inspiration of using Stings song when I first heard it on The Professional. I think that almost any magician that heard that would immediately think about how they could apply it in a magic context. Same as Kenny Rogers "The Gambler"

However, even if two performers are using the same song which happens all the time you are still going to get two entirely different presentations.

After watching both videos I can not see any similarity in any part of either performance other than the music. Saying that because they both used a stool so they are identical is like saying they both had black close up pads.

Honestly, I felt that Shawn's was far more of a theatrical piece than Russ' and had much more flow and logic. Russ' Did more of a manipulation routine and played more as a stage effect than an intimate close up piece.

I think they both have very distinct presentations and even if they were performing them in the same show they would be two completely different routines even in the audiences eyes. There is just far to many differences in effect.

As far as having permission to use the music, the only one that we need to get the permission from is the author of the music. What we do from there is entirely up to us.

My humble opinion.
Max
Message: Posted by: MagicMichealMan (Aug 6, 2009 09:56PM)
Why is everyone bashing on shawn? He's one of the greats and always will be, if you have seen him perform or lecture you would understand why he is a world champion

Magic Mike
Message: Posted by: longhaired1 (Aug 6, 2009 10:37PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-06 19:09, Donald Dunphy wrote:
[url=http://magicunlimited.typepad.com/magic_unlimited_with_elli/2009/08/stevens-vs-farquhar.html]--> Here's one page with both videos.[/url]

- Donald
[/quote]

I have absolutely no dog in this fight and have never seen either of these guys perform this or any other routine. I watched the two videos simultaneously with the sound off, and for the life of me I can't see any connection between the two other than cards, a stool and apparently the choice of music.

Two entirely different routines otherwise.

That's the opinion of someone who could not be more neutral on the subject.
Message: Posted by: MickeyPainless (Aug 7, 2009 12:02AM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-06 23:37, longhaired1 wrote:

I have absolutely no dog in this fight and have never seen either of these guys perform this or any other routine. I watched the two videos simultaneously with the sound off, and for the life of me I can't see any connection between the two other than cards, a stool and apparently the choice of music.

Two entirely different routines otherwise.

That's the opinion of someone who could not be more neutral on the subject.
[/quote]

DITTO!
Message: Posted by: silverking (Aug 7, 2009 12:04AM)
These two performances are so different as to render this entire discussion obsolete.

It would appear that the majority of folks at the Genii Forum would agree (well, at least those with more than "1" post!):
http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/200179#Post200179
Message: Posted by: Stucky (Aug 7, 2009 05:12AM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-06 19:09, Donald Dunphy wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-08-06 17:53, magicnewswire wrote:
Maybe someone could post links to both videos for us to compare side by side instead of speculating on what "I remember" (or don''t) about a performance.
[/quote]

[url=http://magicunlimited.typepad.com/magic_unlimited_with_elli/2009/08/stevens-vs-farquhar.html]--> Here's one page with both videos.[/url]

- Donald
[/quote]

You know thru all of this silliness, I couldn't help but notice NEITHER OF THESE ACTS OVERLAP!! Apart from the song, and the jack of diamonds and queen of spades bit of course..

Shawn's is a close up routine with a camera so you can see what he is doing. Russ' is a manip bit where you can barely make out what cards he is using past the second row. (also is it just me or does Russ applaud for his own act at one point? I'm not sayin' I'm just sayin'....)

I don't know either guy personally, but really? This is what the magic community it going to focus on right now? They are two different bits structure and theme wise. Many magicians use the same songs as others. How many times have you heard Sing Sing Sing used by performers? Heck I have seen two rope routines done to the same Enya song. Inspiration I can understand. Theft... in this case I don't see it.

Of course, I am just a faceless bit of letters on your computer screen. I'm not going to change anyone's mind. That's up to you.
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Aug 7, 2009 05:31AM)
Ok... I have watched the videos. Now I am convinced. They are totally different acts.
Message: Posted by: russ stevens (Aug 7, 2009 07:32AM)
Put yourself in my shoes.

I am accused of stealing Shawn Farquhar’s routine.

I prove to Shawn that I didn’t.

He concedes.

We accept at that time that we both created similar routines by coincidence based on what he told me (which on reflection is ironic now).

Shawn told me he’d not seen my routine when he developed his. It now transpires that he had seen it. I quote:

“In 1994 I was in England with Francis Martineau and Russ gave us a copy of his promo tape It was in pal.The conversion to NTSC at that time was more than I wanted to pay. So at a meeting a few months later ( could have been early 1995) I asked Shawn if he wanted to pay half; and we both ended up with a viewable copy.It is possible he had forgotten.I mean 14 years has passed”.
Reg Donnelly (Reg Donenelly was traveling with magic illustrator Frank Martinaeu and I met them both in Blackpool in 1994).

Shawn Farquhar then enters the world’s most prestigious magic competition with a routine based on my routine (that he denied) and wins. It is simply unethical, that’s all.

Our routines (the ‘tricks’) aren’t the same, but owe their impact to the same staging and music. The music and staging accounts for 60% or 70% of the worth of the piece.

If I told you I was entering a silent dove/manipulation act into FISM and was going to use Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for backing would everyone not understand that that piece ‘belonged’ to Lance Burrton? Or that David Copperfield’s presentation of the Dancing Cane to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue made that piece of music ‘his’ when used in a Dancing Cane routine? Please understand that I don’t dare compare myself to these brilliant performers, but it’s exactly the same.

For me that’s what putting an act together is all about. You start with ‘you’ add the tricks and music and then random items become a ‘whole’, a ‘piece’, theatre… Look at Jeff McBride’s original card routine. Fantastic! Performed to Joe Sample’s Carmel. I wouldn’t have dreamt of taking that piece of music in a million years. Jeff had made it his. And I respected that.

I think Shawn Farquhar has behaved disgracefully.

If he’d said all along that he’d seen my act, and was going to rework it for himself by using a close-up card trick on stage instead of my card manipulation sequence that would have been one thing. But to have deceived me all along is really something else.

That is what has been hurtful the most.

He can keep his awards, as they really have no interest to me. This has not been a pleasurable experience and is something I would rather not have done. All I ever wanted was for people to know the truth and now you do. I stand by everything I wrote in the post that started this thread.

That’s all I wanted to say.
Best,
Russ
Message: Posted by: silverking (Aug 7, 2009 10:24AM)
Russ, you've stated your case multiple times for the record (here and on the Genii forum).

Your posts remain on the forums "forever", so the recrod is established and really the matter should conclude here.

If you're seeking agreement across the board, it's obviously not going to come.....but you've certainly stated your case.

It should probably end here as there's been no movement on the issue that would indicate it should keep going.......In other words there is no resolution to be had other than stating your case out loud.
Message: Posted by: mattjohnson (Aug 7, 2009 11:34AM)
Hi All,

I have been reading all of the threads & discussions with regards to this subject for some time now & feel I can keep myself out of this no longer.

As many of you know I also live in Vancouver & have known both Shawn & Reg for many years now. I have considered both to be friends over the years so I find this post very difficult to write.

About 2 years ago while building props for my act Reg shared with me the fact that he had a promo tape of Russ Stevens. This came about because we were discussing FISM acts & happened to talk about Shawn's act as he lives in the same town as us. I happened to mention that it was very similar to an act by Russ Stevens & as I was born & raised in the UK I had seen Russ's act on television many times as a teenager in the early 90's.

My jaw dropped that day when Reg shared the information with me that he has shared with you here. Please understand that he shared this with me in confidence & because Vancouver is a small town when it comes to magicians I chose to hold this in confidence. For years he has felt bad about the sharing of the tape in light of the fact that Shawn went on to develop his act. Please understand that at that time I had no reason to doubt Reg (& still do not) as those that know him, know him to be trust worthy & a kind, gentle sole that would not hurt a fly.

Now to the matter at hand.

I feel the point we are all missing here is not the fact that the routines are different (although staging similarities do exist) but the matter of ethics & integrity behind all of this.

As magicians ethics & integrity is one of the most important things we have. As many of you know, it is close to impossible in our art, craft & business to copyright an act, effect or idea simply because it is so darned expensive to do so. We therefore build our art on an unwritten code of ethics that we trust will protect us from situations like this. It is the same code of ethics we all swear to when joining our local magic clubs. We are asked to swear to this code of ethics when joining our magic clubs & societies because it is the very fiber with which our craft is held together.

It appears to me from the information I have from Reg & through the threads here on the Café that Shawn had a copy of Russ's act around 1995 - 14 years ago. I believe that Reg did give him a copy of the tape & that is why I find this so very hard to swallow. If Reg gave Shawn a copy of the tape 14 years ago that means that Shawn did know who Russ Stevens was & had seen his act before.

The bit that hurts the most for me (as a magician) is not whether or not it was directly based on Russ's act as we will never prove that. It is the fact that Shawn has denied publicly ever hearing of Russ up until a few years ago. If indeed Shawn did see a tape of Russ's act14 years ago then all of the interactions with Russ Stevens over the years have all been false. This boils down to the ethics & integrity I was referring to earlier. If we cannot hold onto the ethics & integrity of magic what is the point?

So in conclusion.

I am not going to sit here and argue whether or not the acts are the same (although I have my own opinions on that) & whether or not Shawn was inspired by Russ. However I do understand how Russ must feel. I do not believe that Russ brought this up simply because Shawn won FISM & has sour grapes. I believe that Russ brought this up because certain matters came to light that made all of his discussions with Shawn obsolete. I also believe that Russ has been put in a situation for many years that he should never have been in. He created an act to music we have all thought about using but never the less he created it 16 years ago (or more). I know because I saw it on TV with my own two eyes. He was then lead to believe that Shawn came up with his routine independently & had resided himself to that.

Imagine how Russ must feel now he knows different. Put yourself in Russ's shoes here for a second!

How would you feel? I know how I would feel!!!

Matthew Johnson
Message: Posted by: Marc Spelmann (Aug 7, 2009 12:23PM)
Brilliantly said.. Far to often we overlook what is right about magic, not the tricks but the brotherhood, the ethics.. I had an idea for a routine about five years ago and designed the whole thing, rehearsed it, honed it perfectly and thought of it as my own..

Then via email communicated with Max Maven and he told me I had recreated someone else's effect. I did what I believe to be the right thing and dropped it completely..

I could have stuck my head in the sand and claimed I knew nothing about the other routine but that would be dishonest, disrespectful and above all else I would be essentially stealing a premise. That IS an issue..

In our relatively small world of magic we have to try to respect each other. If we don't have truth what do we have? and I dread to think of the stealing, lies and backstabbing that would follow if we ignored such things..

MS
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Aug 7, 2009 12:30PM)
I have a question, and maybe it's not my business to ask this.

Why did Reg not approach Shawn directly about his concern, and instead approach others? And then after speaking with others, why did he not approach Shawn directly before posting his concerns on the internet and / or taking his concerns to Russ?

I'm still confused about some things. Because we are hearing about Reg's recollection through other people, it's hard to fully understand what Reg actually said. Apparently, Reg said that he and Shawn split the cost of converting the tape. Also, without knowing who was making this recollection about Shawn allegedly seeing the video before creating his routine, Shawn stated that he didn't recall paying half to convert a video, because he already owned a machine to do it. The info about who said that this happened was told to Shawn after he was told about what apparently happened. It sure seems hard to recall a situation, if you don't aren't told who was involved. Really, Shawn and Reg should talk about it with one another, to see if they recall the same thing, before taking it public.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Aug 7, 2009 03:34PM)
Here is my question: Which one of these gentlemen asked for Sting’s permission to use his song? Why didn’t Shawn and Russ write their own song? Absurd questions to illustrate absurdity.

Beautiful music like this inspires creativity. I know there are others using this same piece of music for their original card routine. I know because I’ve seen them using it. So what! The music is just part of the framework, the backdrop, the setting if you will. How you tie everything together to evoke an emotional response is what makes a good performance. And I do think Shawn has succeeded at that and deserves to be FISM Champion.
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (Aug 7, 2009 04:03PM)
Congrats to both Shawn and Russ for their artistic creations. They are both champions in my mind.

Larry
Message: Posted by: landmark (Aug 7, 2009 04:57PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-07 13:30, Donald Dunphy wrote:


I'm still confused about some things. Because we are hearing about Reg's recollection through other people, it's hard to fully understand what Reg actually said. Apparently, Reg said that he and Shawn split the cost of converting the tape. Also, without knowing who was making this recollection about Shawn allegedly seeing the video before creating his routine, Shawn stated that he didn't recall paying half to convert a video, because he already owned a machine to do it. The info about who said that this happened was told to Shawn after he was told about what apparently happened. It sure seems hard to recall a situation, if you don't aren't told who was involved. Really, Shawn and Reg should talk about it with one another, to see if they recall the same thing, before taking it public.

- Donald
[/quote]

Donally's account is first hand on this very thread.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Aug 7, 2009 05:05PM)
You're right. I found the post after Shawn's.

Still, I think that it's odd that Shawn heard about Reg's concerns through others, rather than directly from him. Shawn was asked to respond, before he even heard it from Reg directly, and before he knew what in the world people were talking about.

I still think they should talk to one another, to see if their recollection of that is the same, and talk about specific details to jog one another's memory. We can't assume that one is 100% right, and the other 100% wrong.

- Donald

P.S. My position is that both routines seem pretty different, and they both seem to have been created independently of one another.
Message: Posted by: Stucky (Aug 7, 2009 06:04PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-07 08:32, russ stevens wrote:
Put yourself in my shoes.
[/quote]
Do you wear a 10 1/2 wide? (Sorry I couldn't help it)

[quote]
The music and staging accounts for 60% or 70% of the worth of the piece.
[/quote]
I don't know if I agree with that entirely... I don't know how you do your routine now as I only have seen the one from the 90's, but you move quite fast for using such a slow song. Theatrically speaking it's a bit off. (Nothing against you mate, just something I have noticed.)

[quote]
If I told you I was entering a silent dove/manipulation act into FISM and was going to use Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for backing would everyone not understand that that piece ‘belonged’ to Lance Burrton? Or that David Copperfield’s presentation of the Dancing Cane to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue made that piece of music ‘his’ when used in a Dancing Cane routine? Please understand that I don’t dare compare myself to these brilliant performers, but it’s exactly the same.
[/quote]
So you feel you have what some refer to as "squatters rights" then? Such as Rocco doing water bowls when Jeff McBride has been doing them forever? I wouldn't say it's exactly the same in this case but...

[quote]
I think Shawn Farquhar has behaved disgracefully.
[/quote]
It's probably NOT the first time. He is Canadian you know? (Just playin' Shawn.)

[quote]
That’s all I wanted to say.
[/quote]
Again....

Yes this is a pooch screw of some large proportion. However, the damage is done. The cases have been stated. It's up to us who we believe and who we don't. Flog this dead horse no longer and move on. After all, we're just magicians. In the grand scheme of things, we're the only ones who care about such nonsense.
Message: Posted by: Gordyboy (Aug 7, 2009 11:48PM)
I have a cousin visiting from out of town who doesn't know anything about magic. I showed him both videos. He thought both performers were excellent but they were obviously different acts.

Then I showed him another well known magician on YouTube and he said this looked like a closer copy of Russ.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEZ3TBmS_r0
Message: Posted by: zerofire (Aug 8, 2009 01:43AM)
I have no idea how this can become an argument.

I believe any magician will easily come up similar routine if they happen to hear this song. The lyrics keep mentioning different suit of cards, as a magician, if you want to play along this song, you will sure produce a king of diamond if the lyrics mention it, you wouldn't produce ace of heart instead just to avoid other magician accuse you on copying his act right?

Look at their routine, what Shawn did? Card Control. What Russ did? Card manipulation and production.

Things are very clear. Does it really involve any ethical issue here? Or we are saying as soon as one is the first one who use the song for his act, everyone who use this song afterward will become a copycat?
Message: Posted by: Andi Peters (Aug 8, 2009 01:51AM)
I like both Russ and Shawn.

However, I don't like it when they fight.

Having weighed up the arguments both have put forward I declare the winner as.....

...wait for it......

RUSS STEVENS!

I think Shawn should keep his FISM trophy but at the same time I think he should write Russ a letter to thank him for the inspiration for the routine.

Come on Shawn, do the right thing, be a good lad now.
Message: Posted by: Lee_Hathaway (Aug 8, 2009 03:33AM)
How ridiculous, people arguing over something which doesn't belong to any of them. Shape of My Heart belongs to Sting and Dominic Miller who co-wrote it. Anyone else just fitted moves and flourishes around it. It doesn't take a big leap of the imagination to think that a well versed magician may hear some music about playing cards and think "hold on, I use music, I use playing cards"...Eureka!

Nobody other than Sting is entitled to claim ownership. If Shawn had ripped the routine performed to it, that's a different matter.

Interesting that a song which seeks to portray the utter pointlessness of war, disagreement, fighting and desire for wealth can in turn be the cause of such. Maybe if magicians spent more time listening to what Sting was trying to say, and less time throwing moves around HIS song to then claim as their own we wouldn't be in this situation.
Message: Posted by: Andi Peters (Aug 8, 2009 04:36AM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 04:33, Lee_Hathaway wrote:
Nobody other than Sting is entitled to claim ownership. If Shawn had ripped the routine performed to it, that's a different matter.
[/quote]
Now I'm confused. Are you saying Sting came up with the routine originally?
Message: Posted by: Futureal (Aug 8, 2009 05:18AM)
Sting does a great top-change.
Message: Posted by: mjdowden (Aug 8, 2009 07:01AM)
I think Matt Johnson said it perfectly, a very clear and well written post mate, well done. Unfortunately though, there are also a lot of people having "their say" but adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.

For example, all the comments about giving credit to Sting (the non ironic ones), how we should listen to the real meaning of the words, or asking if Sting is getting royalties are pointless in this discussion so please let's not have any more of those.

Also, anyone saying that the idea of performing that kind of routine is cheesy clearly isn't a performer and has no idea about theatre and drama. Let's take David Copperfield and his work as an example. Where would he be without his sense of theatre. What would his routines look like with different music? They would have a completely different feel to them. One of the major reasons that David Copperfield's stuff has an effect on the audience is the well chosen music.

This brings me to another point. Copperfield's choice of music has become PART of his routines. When I first saw his Grandpa's Aces routine the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It immediately taught me the importance of theatre and music in magic. If we saw ANYONE doing ANY type of card routine to the "Cousin's" love theme, we would immediately think that they had seen Copperfield's Grandpa's aces routine and accuse them of not being able to think for themselves. Granted it is very tempting because often when you see a great piece of magic done to a really moving piece of music, it is hard to imagine it done another way. Also, if an audience had seen someone else perform a card trick using the Cousins theme and then saw Copperfield's routine, it would have less of an impact. This is why you're not supposed to "borrow" material from other people's acts because no matter how good the original is, when you see it for the second time it gets less, if any reaction. Someone has even said that the first time they saw Mr Farquhar's routine their wife cried? Even if this is a little over the top, they then go onto say that when they saw Russ' routine it had less impact and they thought the first one was better! OF COURSE that's how you felt, because when you see something for the first time, you associate it with the person you originally saw doing it, and the Shape of my heart is a very powerful track. This is the crux of the matter. One artist (the originator) should not have to worry about who in the audience has seen the other act.

Put yourself in Russ' shoes and think about it this way. Now that Mr Farquhar has won FISM and performed at a lot of conventions, if Russ performs his routine, what do you think anyone who hasn't heard of him is going to say and think?? You can't deny it, there is no other way of looking at it. Anyone who doesn't know Russ and his work will immediately say, "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Shawn Farquhar's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"

This is why Russ has been forced to come out and make his point. It is not mud slinging, it is simply that we all care about artistic integrity and originality, and it is NOT FAIR that Russ should have to worry about people thinking he's taken someone else's idea. People can say that it shouldn't matter but IT DOES and we all know that.

Finally it seems people are ignoring the elephant in the room. If, as the evidence suggests, Mr Farquhar HAD seen Russ' tape all those years ago then it means he was categorically lying about the situation, plain and simple.
Message: Posted by: Stanyon (Aug 8, 2009 07:34AM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 08:01, mjdowden wrote:
Put yourself in Russ' shoes and think about it this way. Now that Mr Farquhar has won FISM and performed at a lot of conventions, if Russ performs his routine, what do you think anyone who hasn't heard of him is going to say and think?? You can't deny it, there is no other way of looking at it. Anyone who doesn't know Russ and his work will immediately say, "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Shawn Farquhar's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"
[/quote]


Or looking at this from another perspective, does anyone outside of the magic community know or care who Russ Stevens and Shawn Farquhar are? I'm sure that if you polled the lay publc to name three magicians, Russ' and Shawn's names would never be mentioned. Does a FISM championship mean anything to the lay public? No.

Will anyone outside the magic community remember who won the 2009 FISM championship? No. Plagiarism? No. Theft? No. Artistic integrity? Dubious.

JMHO
Message: Posted by: Leslie Melville (Aug 8, 2009 08:22AM)
On the other hand Steve, how would YOU feel if you had been accused by some of your peers (as Russ has) of lifting a routine from a (relatively speaking) high profile performer, when you know that you have been performing your routine for much longer and that you also suspect that in fact the reverse is the case?

Many years ago, here in the U.K. a popular Irish clubland comedian was performing a routine in his act with an out of tune guitar. It was a very, very funny bit of business. Some time later, another comic achieved some television success and lifted the guitar bit for himself. Because he had the bigger image, the routine became associated with him!

The Irish comic was obliged to drop the entire presentation from his act!

The material and circumstances are different, the morals are the same.

It has nothing to do with whether Shawn's routine is the same as Russ's - that's just a red-herring. It is a matter of perception. The fact that Russ has been accused (albeit by a small faction of Shawn's fans), indicates that there is sufficient similarity for the accusation to be damaging.

As has been suggested, it is possible that Shawn had forgotten from where the inspiration for his presentation came; it happens. Now that he has been reminded, I am sure that(like a true champion)he will acknowledge the fact - then we can all go back to plucking the wings off flies!

Leslie
Message: Posted by: Tim Ellis (Aug 8, 2009 08:28AM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 08:01, mjdowden wrote:

Put yourself in Russ' shoes and think about it this way. Now that Mr Farquhar has won FISM and performed at a lot of conventions, if Russ performs his routine, what do you think anyone who hasn't heard of him is going to say and think?? You can't deny it, there is no other way of looking at it. Anyone who doesn't know Russ and his work will immediately say, "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Shawn Farquhar's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"
[/quote]


Or as has happened in this case - Shawn has won FISM and people are saying "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Russ Steven's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Aug 8, 2009 10:19AM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 04:33, Lee_Hathaway wrote:
How ridiculous, people arguing over something which doesn't belong to any of them. Shape of My Heart belongs to Sting and Dominic Miller who co-wrote it. Anyone else just fitted moves and flourishes around it. It doesn't take a big leap of the imagination to think that a well versed magician may hear some music about playing cards and think "hold on, I use music, I use playing cards"...Eureka!

Nobody other than Sting is entitled to claim ownership. If Shawn had ripped the routine performed to it, that's a different matter.

Interesting that a song which seeks to portray the utter pointlessness of war, disagreement, fighting and desire for wealth can in turn be the cause of such. Maybe if magicians spent more time listening to what Sting was trying to say, and less time throwing moves around HIS song to then claim as their own we wouldn't be in this situation.
[/quote]

Great post Lee. You made the point that I was trying to make but you made it much more clearly.

[quote]
On 2009-08-08 08:01, mjdowden wrote:
there are also a lot of people having "their say" but adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.

For example, all the comments about giving credit to Sting (the non ironic ones), how we should listen to the real meaning of the words, or asking if Sting is getting royalties are pointless in this discussion so please let's not have any more of those. [/quote]

Sorry, I disagree. It’s the song we are talking about here and how it has inspired two magicians. No one is questioning the merits or talents of these two performers. I think it does add to the discussion.

Let me add some more.

Some of you may also find it interesting to know that the music to ‘Shape of my Heart’ was one of the few Sting songs written by his lead guitarist, Dominic Miller. Moved by the music, Sting went for a walk along the river and wrote the lyrics. So I guess you could say that the first person to be inspired by this song was Sting himself.
Message: Posted by: mitchmagi (Aug 8, 2009 10:43AM)
Thick with intrigue.

We have Reg who remembers some 14+ years ago allegedly splitting the cost of the conversion of the tape with Shawn.

We have Shawn denying this - saying why would he pay when he already owned a multi-system machine.

Is it possible that perhaps Reg has confused Shawn with someone else ?

Or to play the flip side - even if Shawn did receive the copy of the tape ... we don't know if he ever viewed it ( I have hundreds of tapes in my collection which I have never got around to viewing )

Russ bases his entire attack on the input of Reg ... and uses this to discredit Shawn entirely. But there is one question which is unanswered ?

If Shawn maliciously 'stole' Russ' routine all those years ago, why then when hearing of Russ Stevens for apparently the first time - would you go to all the trouble of accusing the originator of stealing your routine ( which if we were to believe the allegations, Shawn knew all along belonged to Russ ) Not only that - but then initiate contact with the 'originator' branding them a thief, and continue the whole pretense of lies, lies and more lies in your correspondence and subsequent interactions.

Seems like an awful lot of work to go to - when all you needed to do was keep quiet rather than draw unneeded attention to your 'theft' in the first place.

Magicians are a crafty bunch - but this is pushing it a little too far ... where is Jessica Fletcher when you need her ?
Message: Posted by: ku7uk3 (Aug 8, 2009 11:06AM)
I don't want to get involved with this fight, so this will be my only post. I want to shed some light on an area of this argument that has been left untouched - the transferring of a video from PAL to NTSC. Why?

1. To my knowledge, almost all videos in Canada of that time could play both formats. So they could easily have watched the video without any problems. Even if one of them did not have a video, the other would have. And at that time, I believe it would have been a lot cheaper to buy a new video player than pay for the conversion.

2. If the act was for private use, why bother paying to transfer it at all? Couldn't he have just watched it at a friends house?
The only reason I can see is to market or resell the video in your own country, which doesn't look to have been done. So I see no justification for why the video was copied / transferred in the first place. It doesn't make sense. It makes me believe the whole story was fabricated.

3. Then, back in the eighties we were still using betamax and had just entered into the cd-i, laserdisc and vcd media formats. Any conversion that might have taken place would have been to these media formats, would'nt they?

I don't know whose telling the truth, nor do I care. But I see flaws in this argument about conversion and in any case, why did it even happen in the first place. Maybe if we get to the answers about that, it might answer the others questions in the process.
Message: Posted by: Shawn Farquhar (Aug 8, 2009 11:08AM)
I have arrived in Japan, where I can now use internet without restrictions. I have wasted most of my first day in Japan reading Magic Café, iTricks, Genii and the useless blog I will not promote.

I see that the [i]"well respected magician"[/i] has been revealed.

Russ wrote:

[i]"Recently a rather important piece of information has been passed onto me from a well respected magician, about a VHS promotional tape of mine that ended up in Vancouver in the mid-nineties."[/i]

How recent was this important piece of information given to you and why did you not email or call to ask me personally if this was fact or fiction? Why did you wait until after FISM? I have asked you several questions on these forums and you have yet to reply to any.

Instead you continue to repeat the same line:
[i]"I'd like to point out that Shawn considered them close enough to accuse me of copying him."[/i].
This is misleading and you know it. I was told by your friends that I was a thief first. I was told by these same friends that your routine was identical to mine. That is why I accused you of copying me! Once I saw your little routine I knew you most likely had never seen mine. In my previous reply to this misleading and repetitive statement you make I said: "No Russ I did not think they were close enough. In fact I was told by your friends at the FFFF convention that the routines were identical. I had never seen or heard of you for that matter! I contacted you based on their statements and soon discovered the routine had nothing similar other than the use of the same music. As I wrote above I thought we had settled this dispute. In fact you wrote, [i]"I wouldn't want to ever fall out, and of course, as discussed before, I know that we've simply had the same presentational idea. In fact when a few people first told me of yours, I checked out what you were doing and found it to be obviously different to the extent that a rip-off wouldn't do." [/i]Now you appear to be upset that I used my routine to compete and win an award. You have also since written you were uncomfortable by my use of a stool ... what?"

I should also bring to your attention, in case you have yet to watch my performance from FISM 2009, that I did not use a stool, I sat at a chair and used a table too ... the only reason I use a stool during stage shows is to establish the stool before doing Kevin James snow routine. (Yes, I perform the routine with Kevin's permission and use different music too)

Reg Donnelly wrote:

[i]"In 1994 I was in England with Francis Martineau and Russ gave us a copy of his promo tape It was in pal.The conversion to NTSC at
that time was more than I wanted to pay. So at a meeting a few months later (could have been early 1995) I asked Shawn if he wanted to pay half; and we both ended up with a viewable copy.
It is possible he had forgotten. I mean 14 years has passed."[/i]
Reg Donnelly

Reg had in the past traded me video tapes from the UK and Japan. These videos were usually FISM NHK or Wayne Dobson and Paul Daniel shows. I have no recollection of any promotional videos of any acts whatsoever. I have 100's of videos that I have collected, converted or traded and will say again that it makes no sense to me why I would have agreed to pay to have a video converted when I have my own conversion machine.

Perhaps Reg is mistaken? I can't be the only magician he traded videos with at the time. Perhaps he is thinking of Matt Ridley who was an avid collector of magic videos and a great dove act. Reg and I are not friends, but we aren't adversaries either. He travels in a circle of magicians who for the most part do not like me, but I can't imaging his post was made with malice intent. However the questions does arise why didn't he contact me first, instead of Russ Stevens? Why did he confide in Matt Johnson, but not speak to me at all?

Matt Johnson wrote:

[i]"As many of you know I also live in Vancouver & have known both Shawn & Reg for many years now. I have considered both to be friends over the years so I find this post very difficult to write.

About 2 years ago while building props for my act Reg shared with me the fact that he had a promo tape of Russ Stevens. This came about because we were discussing FISM acts & happened to talk about Shawn's act as he lives in the same town as us. I happened to mention that it was very similar to an act by Russ Stevens & as I was born & raised in the UK I had seen Russ's act on television many times as a teenager in the early 90's.

My jaw dropped that day when Reg shared the information with me that he has shared with you here. Please understand that he shared this with me in confidence & because Vancouver is a small town when it comes to magicians I chose to hold this in confidence."[/i]

Matt, I do believe this was a difficult post to write. I am surprised that for two years you have never thought to ask me if the allegation was true. As your friend, if someone were to accuse you of something, I would confront you to find out both sides of the story. Your post is just a repetition of what Reg has said to Russ.

Over the years I think I have proved myself to be an ethical individual. Here are just a few examples that spring to mind:

a) One of my students bought a rip off version of the Cub Zag, built by Reg Donnelly. I wanted my student to not use the prop and in fact spent my own money to purchase him a used and authentic one from www.magicaution and put him on a payment plan to slowly pay off the cost.

b) I created a routine based on a principle of Jon Allen, noted UK magician, and have credited him in every publication and lecture I present. Why because he inspired the routine.

c) I have recently release Torn 2 Pieces which I created many years ago. When I first presented it to a group of magicians one was quick to reference Dan Harlan and an effect he created long before my effect. I contacted Dan and came to an agreement. Why ... it was the right thing to do!

d) On the day of rehearsal for the final contest at FISM I found three CD's laying on the floor in an unsecured dressing room. I opened them to discover one was my music, another's was Latko's and the final one was Marc Oberon's. I took all three with me and soon found Latko and gave him back his property. It wasn't until I was at the final rehearsal (the one accidentally broadcast at FISM) that I saw Marc in a bit of a worry as the [b]ONLY[/b] copy of his music had gone missing! Without it he would not be able to compete. An unethical person could have easily sat silent. I assured Marc I had found his music and it was safe in my room and sent my Wife to retrieve it so he could compete against me in the finals.

Now ask yourselves, if I would be ethical for these, why wouldn't I admit I saw a video tape, liked the music, disliked the performers interpretation of the magic and was inspired to create my own! The reason I wouldn't is simple ... it's not how it happened! If it was the way it happened none of this would matter anyways!

Russ Steven's and his band of mean spirited bloggers and youtube posters just don't get it. It's a piece of music that cries out to be a card trick. I created one and it is good. Good enough that the two versions I have online have accumulated nearly 400,000 views compared to his 16,709 views on YouTube. Good enough to be a Featured Video this week! Russ even uses my name in his tags for his video to try to increase his views! For some reason he also uses David Copperfield.

I concede he found the music first. I also think he should be the only one to use it when presenting a back palming/card sword presentation while sitting on a stool or standing for that matter.

I promise I will never present a routine using back palming and the song "Shape of my Heart". pinky swear!

I have had quite enough of this ridiculous thread and Mr. Steven's attempt's to attack me ... what a great way to celebrate my achievement at FISM.

Respectfully,

Shawn Farquhar
2009 Grand Prix FISM World Champion of Close Up
Message: Posted by: mjdowden (Aug 8, 2009 11:11AM)
Hi Ken,

All the things you have written about the song, Sting and his guitarist etc are interesting and I would never dispute them. The point I was making is that the debate is about two magicians using the same music and whether it causes a conflict. The details of the song, sting's initial inspiration etc don't move the debate along or resolve anything.

Hi Tim,

"Or as has happened in this case - Shawn has won FISM and people are saying "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Russ Steven's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"

A good point well made, You're absolutely right in THIS case people are saying it that way around. The only problem is that it is a small selection of people who are saying that, because we know how long Russ has been doing that routine. It leads back to my point that Mr Farquhar has been doing conventions and entering competitions with the routine and therefore the majority of magicians who haven't seen Russ performing would think the opposite! That is what Russ has had to defend against. None of us want to have people thinking we have taken another's idea.

Hi Stanyon,

Of course you're right, although I wouldn't say your opinion was humble :). In the grand scheme of things, no one knows who any of us are and it seems insignificant. However, in the words of Bertrand Russel, it is our intrinsic right to give "value" to things. Something that might mean nothing to someone outside the magic community might mean everything in the world to a magician. If it wasn't important, why would anyone enter a competition. If we use your logic then NOTHING would be important to anyone.

Well said Leslie!
Message: Posted by: russ stevens (Aug 8, 2009 11:49AM)
Hello Everyone,

I do not have a “band of bloggers”. After the FISM result I was inundated with emails from people expressing their disgust and my name was being mentioned on various forums and blogs (including the one run by Shawn Farquhar's friend Tim Ellis). That is why I had to respond.

I stand by every word that I have written and I trust Reg Donnelly and Matt Johnson implicitly. I don’t care how many hits Shawn Farquhar has had on YouTube and I fail to see what that has to do with the situation (apart telling us all about his ego!).

I know he’ll never admit the truth and so I have absolutely nothing more to say on the matter.

Best wishes and have a great weekend!
Russ
Message: Posted by: Andi Peters (Aug 8, 2009 12:15PM)
I have heard a rumour on the magical grapevine that the FISM judges are getting together over the phone to discuss the matter. Has anyone else heard the same?
Message: Posted by: Gordyboy (Aug 8, 2009 12:42PM)
Russ, I can see that you'll have a tough time leaving this thread without getting the last word in and trying to convince everyone that Shawn isn't telling the truth, but at this point I don't think you'll change anyone's mind.

I believe that you believe everything you're saying, and I believe that Shawn believes everything he is saying, therefore he is telling the truth and you need to stop accusing him of lying. Honestly, the longer you drag this on the worse you're making yourself look.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Aug 8, 2009 12:59PM)
Here's another great card act that I enjoyed watching:

Matthias Rauch: http://vimeo.com/5189077

- Donald
Message: Posted by: MickeyPainless (Aug 8, 2009 01:04PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 13:42, Gordyboy wrote:
Honestly, the longer you drag this on the worse you're making yourself look.
[/quote]

I agree Gordy! In my readings the ones that look foolish (IMO) are Russ and his posse!

I will offer my professional and expert opinion as an equine specialist, this horse HAS truly been beaten and I pronounce it officially dead! ;)

MMc
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Aug 8, 2009 03:36PM)
I spoke with Tim Ellis by phone last night for more than an hour. We specifically discussed this issue, and he didn't mention the possibility of a FISM Judge conference on the matter.
Message: Posted by: Andi Peters (Aug 8, 2009 05:33PM)
When Rick Merrill won FISM he gave Rune Clan full credit for being an inspiration to him and his act. Everyone thought this was fine. I don't know why Shawn has such a problem acknowledging Russ in the same way. If he'd done that at the outset none of this would be the problem it is now imho.
Message: Posted by: Gilgamesh_The_Librarian (Aug 8, 2009 05:42PM)
That's the trouble with the internet isn't it...you can't get in the same room with folks and bang a number of heads together very very forcefully.

As a couple have alluded to already this is just ridiculous. I'm sorry but in the great scheme of things this whole argument is meaningless unless somebody can show that they have been materially affected by anothers wrong doing.

Where I think people are feeling pain on both sides is in "addicted to the drama" magicians whispering "he stole this" or " he stole that". But then a lot of folk seem to love that kind of drama, it makes them feel good about themselves.

As magicians, we are indeed in general a sad bunch of small-minded losers.
Message: Posted by: lebowski (Aug 8, 2009 05:50PM)
If we had a dollar for every performer who used music first heard by another performer in their show we could solve the national deficit. Countless illusionists have been inspired to copy music used by DC. Not the worst form of imitation, but generally imitation nonetheless.
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Aug 8, 2009 05:50PM)
Um Andi? It just might be because Russ [i]wasn't[/i] the inspiration for Shawn's act? Note that Shawn [i]does[/i] publicly acknowledge that Russ was using the music before he was. But Shawn says that he discovered that fact [i]after[/i] he had developed his own routine. Just sayin'.
Message: Posted by: Andi Peters (Aug 8, 2009 05:52PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 18:42, Gilgamesh_The_Librarian wrote:
As magicians, we are indeed in general a sad bunch of small-minded losers.
[/quote]
Quote of 2009!

That's what all my non-magic friends think of me too!!!
Message: Posted by: Andi Peters (Aug 8, 2009 05:54PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 18:50, Doug Peters wrote:
Um Andi? It just might be because Russ [i]wasn't[/i] the inspiration for Shawn's act? Note that Shawn [i]does[/i] publicly acknowledge that Russ was using the music before he was. But Shawn says that he discovered that fact [i]after[/i] he had developed his own routine. Just sayin'.
[/quote]
Credit goes to the one who did it first. Them's the rules. Play by them or play another game!
Message: Posted by: Tim Ellis (Aug 8, 2009 06:40PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 13:15, Andi Peters wrote:
I have heard a rumour on the magical grapevine that the FISM judges are getting together over the phone to discuss the matter. Has anyone else heard the same?
[/quote]

No
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Aug 8, 2009 07:07PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-08 18:54, Andi Peters wrote:
Credit goes to the one who did it first. Them's the rules. Play by them or play another game!
[/quote]
Please re-read what you said when I responded to you. Shawn gave Russ credit for the thing he did first. Russ used the music first. Shawn acknowledged that. No foul.
Message: Posted by: JohnHoudi (Aug 9, 2009 02:27AM)
When it comes to this matter I wonder what would happen and how everybody would react if it was the other way around. If a magician from Europe won FISM and one hot shot magician from Northern America was in Russ’ shoes?

I Agree with Russ that it would be impossible to present a dove act at a FISM using The Four Seasons.
Magicians love to spot the original. One of the things we spoke about concerning Sweden’s Charlie Caper was that the FISM audience probably would spot Gazzo with Charlies cups & balls routine. We were afraid that in FISM micro magic Sweden’s Johan Stahl would be beaten for ”stealing Rick Merril’s routine” when he used a pen and some sleeving in his routine.

I, on the other hand, have to deal a lot in a similar way of Russ and Shawn. I loved the love theme from the soundtrack of the movie ”Cousins” that David Copperfield uses for his Grandpa’s Aces routine. I thought it would be great to use it together with card manipulations.
A clip of that routine can be found on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbVc5xz0M1Y

You have no idea how many remarks I have gotten about me ”stealing Copperfields trick” from both well known magicians and unknown. I actually had to ask the guy who uploaded the clip on YouTube to remove some of them and all of the threats and extremely bad words over my person. It didn’t look good if people was searching for me and could read I am a copycat of the worst degree.

As I see it Copperfield performed McDonald’s Aces to the song and used a video camera. I performed a back-palm routine. Different, yes. But in so many eyes I’m ripping off Copperfield.

The fun part of it all is that the routine Copperfield use is an adaption of Alain Choquette’s routine. Alain used the same music and Copperfield kept it when he bought the rights.

So, I’m not making a standpoint between Russ or Shawn (but I have my opinion and I will keep it to myself) but again I would like to stress the point: If the FISM-winner was unknown and independently developed a routine that Shawn have used for years; How would the magic fraternity react?

/John Houdi
Message: Posted by: Stucky (Aug 9, 2009 04:59AM)
Funny thing is John, a lot of us discuss "borrowing" where I am from, and it seems this trend to jump on people is fairly popular because the internet helps it spread like a virus quicker.

When Lance won FISM, he used A little Channing and a LOT of Shimada. I bet there were a lot of people up in arms.. but no one knew it. Of course, now Lance is a legend and no one would EVER think of copying him... but he was/is an amalgam of a few performers himself. In this day and age, he might have been ripped a new one as well for doing his now famous act.

Where do we seriously draw the line and just get on with our lives I ask you?
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Aug 9, 2009 06:14AM)
A little perspective from the world of "Intellectual Property" (I'm no lawyer, but I do have a few patents... and yes, I understand that patents are only an analogy to magic, and analogies are not conclusive... )

When you file a patent, the "claims" of the patent indicate what you want to protect.

If Russ' routine were a patent, his lawyers would want him to "claim" a staged card routine set to the music "Shape of my Heart". (Lawyers prefer the claims to be as broad as possible, because it naturally makes the patent as "strong" as possible)

The Patent Office would consider this claim, and they [i]may[/i] conclude that it was too broad. One criterion for such a conclusion would be "if most people trained in the art would think of it, then it is too obvious". Or, in particular: if most people trained in the art of magic could imagine a staged card routine set to the music "Shape of my Heart", then the "broad" claim is illegitimate. The Patent Office would send the patent application back, and the lawyers would make a more specific claim. For example: a staged card [i]manipulation[/i] routine [i]culminating in a card sword[/i] set to the music "Shape of my Heart". Understand that the lawyers would do this reluctantly, as it reduces the strength of the patent.

Another facet of the patent approval process that might be of interest is the concept of "publication date". Yes, it has been established that Russ "published" (i.e., performed) his routine before Shawn. But another point that the Patent Office would consider is the timing of the claim filing. For example, the Patent Office would not consider an application that was filed [i]fourteen years[/i] after the fact -- [i]especially[/i] when the claim coincides with a competitors sudden success! (seriously!) In other words, if an alleged theft of intellectual property was not considered worth prosecuting when the competition is unsuccessful, it is not considered legitimate if it coincides with that competition's sudden success.

Please understand that I am sympathetic to both parties. I'm just trying to point out that the case is far more nuanced than some people are implying.

cheers, Doug