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Topic: Is this ethical?
Message: Posted by: Utkarsh Sinha (Jun 4, 2006 01:26AM)
Let say that I watch a demo of "coin through soda can" or any other effect. I think about it, and I devise a method of my own. Is it ethical to do it if I credit the creator?

I had a debate with a magician friend on this topic. He said that it was unethical.

I think it is ethical. Because while you are thinking about the method, you can come up with some new moves or effects. And these new moves can make magic better than it is today. It even improves your creativity, so you can create new effects!

What do you think?
Message: Posted by: Erdnase27 (Jun 4, 2006 03:56AM)
I think its ethical. You are not using the 100% exact same method as he does so I don't see the problem.
Message: Posted by: DomKabala (Jun 4, 2006 06:33AM)
Yes, it is ethical if you perform an effect and credit the creator with the plot. I can see no wrong if a magician creates a variation of an existing plot as long as he understands that it is unethical to proclaim the originality is his to begin with.
<<<KRaZy4KaRdZ>>>
Message: Posted by: Jonta (Jun 4, 2006 06:35AM)
It might also be that you don't even know who the creator is, so it would be hard to credit him/her.
Message: Posted by: Erdnase27 (Jun 4, 2006 07:21AM)
Well in that case you made ur own moves etc with it so you made a own trick.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Jun 4, 2006 02:25PM)
I think most professionals would agree that performing someone else's original effect [i]for public paying performance[/i] would be unethical, even with a different method. Sometimes it's hard for people to understand that an original plot is as important as an original method. Methods are the easy part, believe it or not--remember the method is invisible; the way an audience remembers you is by the effect they see.

However, if it's just something you're fooling around with, to show friends, that may be a different matter.

As to performing, even when crediting, the best thing to do is to check with the originator. Sometimes those folks can be pretty generous when asked nicely. This Café is a good network to help track people down.

Jack Shalom
Message: Posted by: Rik Chew (Jun 4, 2006 02:33PM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-04 15:25, landmark wrote:
I think most professionals would agree that performing someone else's original effect [i]for public paying performance[/i] would be unethical, even with a different method.
[/quote]
So if I was to have a table hopping job would you say it's unethical to use Roth's hanging coin routine. Surely if someone puts out a trick they expect people to sue it...
Now is it unethical to watch a demo and work out the SAME method?
Message: Posted by: Magicshore (Jun 4, 2006 04:48PM)
Small

I agree with you. Sometimes I get a bit of a "bone" when I see people write about this. Thousands of tricks are sold ...close-up, comedy, stage etc. I think the vast majority of magicians buy these thricks and perform them both for friends and also for entertaining the general paying public. The way I see it, if it's sold..it's public domain stuff. I just don't get the argument that some make about it.

John
Message: Posted by: landmark (Jun 4, 2006 09:38PM)
Roth's Hanging Coin routine is published and on tape/DVD. When you buy a book or DVD, you get the right to perform it.

If you do not own it, then you do not have the right. It is not ethical.

"The way I see it, if it's sold . . . it's public domain stuff."

No one in any field, defines public domain this way.

Would you want your creation to be treated that way?

Yes you could work out how to do something from a demo. If you had created something and someone, instead of buying your effect, worked out a method--whether yours or not--would that make you happy? Would it encourage you to release more magic to the community?

Really, the question of ethics, as opposed to legality, comes down to the Golden Rule. Think about how you would feel if you were on the other end. People should be paid for their creative efforts.
Message: Posted by: Utkarsh Sinha (Jun 5, 2006 12:23AM)
But am I not "paying" them by giving credit to them?
Message: Posted by: SOHA (Jun 5, 2006 10:54AM)
No, Landmark

If it is published, there is nothing wrong with working a method and performing it.

Wil
Message: Posted by: landmark (Jun 5, 2006 08:42PM)
Again, I'll invoke the Golden Rule, and then I'll bow out, as I don't have much to add.

If it was your published routine, with an original plot, and someone who didn't pay you for the plot, performed the effect--with or without your method-- how would you feel?

Would it encourage you to publish more or publish less?


Jack
Message: Posted by: James Alan (Jun 5, 2006 09:45PM)
I think that in order to be a creative magician you have to get your inspiration from wherever you can. I was reading the back of the box of a John Cornelius DVD and I saw there was a routine called "Every Card Trick in the World". I never bought the DVD and other than the title, I know absolutely nothing about John's routine. But I took the idea home and started to play with it.

There's nothing wrong with takign the idea of passing a coin through a can and running with it.
Message: Posted by: Hushai (Jun 6, 2006 01:00AM)
In the popular book "Magic Digest," published back in the 1970's, George Anderson writes, "I know a teen-ager who reads a description of a good trick in a catalogue and then tries to work out his own method of achieving the described effect. Sometimes, he succeeds. If he doesn't and really wants the effect that the catalogue describes, he buys it" (page 216). I always thought that was a pretty sensible idea, and didn't think there was anything wrong with it, till I started reading discussions like this on the Magic Café. Is this ethical concern about not doing a trick you haven't paid for something new, I mean since Anderson wrote that?
Message: Posted by: Utkarsh Sinha (Jun 6, 2006 01:02AM)
Landmark,

Open this page and download the demo video: http://www.penguinmagic.com/product.php?ID=644

(please remember this thread is NOT a debate on Penguin Magic)

View the demo. You will probably see whats going on. So would you pay $8 for something that you already know or would you prefer to buy some new packs of cards?
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 6, 2006 12:40PM)
The purists.
If everybody spends as much time designing new effects or practising or trying to figure out methods as they spend discussing topics like these then we wouldn't have topics like these.
Message: Posted by: djrdjr (Jun 6, 2006 12:56PM)
Years ago, I purchased a packet trick called Bac-Flips. When I recently became interested in magic again, I purchased some cards and built the effect, just to see if I could remember the mechanics. I showed it to my son, who wanted me to teach it to him so he could perform it. I did so, but I also tracked down the "owner" of the effect and purchased an official version. This is what I will give my son to perform with.

I was amazed by the "self-tying shoelace" demo video for days, and then I suddenly thought of a simple, cheap way to produce the same effect. Is it identical to the creator's method? I dunno. Probably not. Would I perform my version of it? I don't think so. I'd probably be inclined to purchase the authentic version.

Yet, if I thought of a new way to tear-and-restore a card or rope, or vanish a coin or produce a scarf, I would have no such qualms.

I guess I really don't understand my position on this myself.
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 7, 2006 01:14PM)
I just spoke to Criss Angel and he promised to pay Jesus for stealing the walking on water effect. There are more than 10 000 magicians on this forum. Do you really think you have any claim to an original effect to a point where we should discuss this on a forum like this.
I understand my position perfectly and it is GET A LIFE AND MAYBE A FEW GIGS.
Message: Posted by: djrdjr (Jun 7, 2006 04:23PM)
Edited out of existence. Please remove. Sorry.
Message: Posted by: lockedroomguy (Jun 7, 2006 05:31PM)
I kind of agree with abc that we could all spend our time better, but, like abc, I can't resist contributing my opinion...

Unlike the law, everyone has their own code of ethics. In mine, this is unethical.

I think you "pay" someone by paying them, not by doing anything else. If I would rather save $8 and buy some cards, then I'll buy some cards, but I won't also steal someone else's effect.

In consumer products this happens all the time. One company brings out a vanilla-flavored product, or toothpaste with Tartar control, and the competitor brings one out a few months later. It happens all the time, so obviously some people think it's ethical, or realize it's unethical and don't care.

My opinion is that it's unethical because the copier is benefiting from someone else's work, and the person who did the work is trying to sell it, not give it away. I think you have the option of not taking the work, or of paying for it, but you don't get to decide that you don't have to pay for their work. You can't say, I'm only using the idea, that's not worth paying for. I can just take that, and the creator won't mind as long as I give him credit. That's up to the creator to decide.

Besides, it's not like you're losing out on much. It's not that big a hardship to do one of the following instead of using someone else's idea:

1) Buy the effect and then devise your own variation and credit the originator;
2) Call up the originator and ask them if you can take the idea;
3) Use one of the THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of other effects available in the public domain. My god, nobody in magic should have a problem with a shortage of effects!

Regards
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 8, 2006 04:27AM)
Djrdjr,
My post wasn't aimed at you so apologies if you took offense. I purely used the line from your post with no intention of going against what you posted.
My point is that magicians get so caught up in this that they argue about it endlessly. I remember a few months ago we had a huge argument here over the see thru cards. I think both parties were right but then the "ancestors" said that one wasn't and therefor had to credit the other. The irony in this is that I also came up with the exact same effect independently and I will not credit or pay anyone because I didn't take there effect. But discussing it endlessly is of no point. I don't see the point of paying someone for re-arranging a few card sleights. Most of the time people come up with these effects but if they are like me they don't think they are strong enough to perform or maybe inpractical.
To use another example. If OASIS comes up with a song and I sing it in the street while walking should I have to pay them? What if someone was listening but not paying? now what if someone was paying me as a street performer or busker? What if I was in a cover band and did the song in a night club or pub? What if I put it on my album? Look at which of these times you really have to pay the creator and how these payments are made and then you will understand why in my opinion the magic society is miles behind other performing arts.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Jun 8, 2006 07:50AM)
My understanding of some of the legalities (as opposed to ethics) in some of the other arts (at least in the US) is this:

If you record someone else's song for an album for sale, you are obligated to pay for it, generally through the music publisher or ASCAP or BMI.

The same holds true for radio airplay--there is some kind of licensing arrangement.

In the theatre, even an amateur stage production--like a high school production of "The Sound Of Music," is obligated to pay royalties for paid public performance.

You may sing in the shower. You may perform Karaoke. You can act out scenes from "Streetcar Named Desire" in your acting class.

That's how some of the other arts have handled the issue of legality.

But ethics is another question. I think lockedroomguy has some pretty compelling arguments.

Jack Shalom
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 8, 2006 03:15PM)
[quote]In the popular book "Magic Digest," published back in the 1970's, George Anderson writes, "I know a teen-ager who reads a description of a good trick in a catalogue and then tries to work out his own method of achieving the described effect. Sometimes, he succeeds. If he doesn't and really wants the effect that the catalogue describes, he buys it." (page 216)[/quote]

Magic is a creative art. What that teen-ager was doing was creation of art, [i]inspired by information made public[/i]. Unless the catalogue was licensed such that use of the catalogue precluded such activity, he is within his legal and ethical purview to create methods of producing effects described in the catalogue.

[quote]I was amazed by the "self-tying shoelace" demo video for days, and then I suddenly thought of a simple, cheap way to produce the same effect. Is it identical to the creator's method? I dunno. Probably not. Would I perform my version of it? I don't think so.[/quote]

It very well may be the same method (*grin*). I stepped through that video, and the method is obvious, even if the mechanics (what kind of p***, etc.) are not. The ethics of the situation can be reduced to the fact that once you have paid for information -- or have been given information -- without strings attached, you may legally and ethically use it without such strings.

[quote]Yet, if I thought of a new way to tear-and-restore a card or rope, or vanish a coin or produce a scarf, I would have no such qualms.[/quote]

If you, without having seen the shoelace demo, thought up the same effect, and then performed it for money, would that be ethical? Of course it would. It would be your own creation. And it is no less your own creation if you were inspired by seeing the demo video. Concepts cannot be owned. If I write a book about an orphan boy raised by his sister and brother-in-law who is made wealthy by a mysterious benefactor, is that theft of concept? Not even if Dickens were still alive. Would it be as good as [i]Great Expectations[/i]? Probably not, but it might be if I were a good enough writer. And therein lies the ethos of art: improvement and enrichment of the art occurs not by individual inspiration alone, but by building on what has been done.

As an artist, of course you must come to your own beliefs about what constitutes your original work, since the law is relatively lax when the work departs from a physical object or written words. However, if you have carried out a creative act, the results of that act are yours. Now define "creative act".

(And if it would ease your qualms, I'm sure that countless little boys with holes in their pockets and too much time on their hands have tried the shoelace effect in the past decades and centuries.)

[quote]If you had created something and someone, instead of buying your effect, worked out a method--whether yours or not--would that make you happy? Would it encourage you to release more magic to the community?[/quote]

hehe . . . Actually, yes. I release almost all my works (except my writing, which I keep under traditional US copyright) under very permissive licenses, [i]a la[/i] the Free Software Foundation.

It's like I said earlier about "strings attached". If someone else wants to release a demo of their effect with a license to which you have to agree before seeing the demo that requires you to not perform the effect (whatever the methods you might devise) without purchasing the effect from them, that is their right. You are receiving information after entering into an agreement as to how you will use it. However, unless that happens, if Penguin is going to post videos that are poorly-performed and easy to see through -- or just videos of simple effects, or videos of effects that only a very few will see through -- then it is anyone's right to take that information and do what they will with it, whether it be performing the effect as-is, creating new effects, or simply viewing for entertainment without asking how it's done.

Of course, copyright law (since the video itself is copyrighted) still covers the actual words spoken, so you are legally and ethically obligated to devise your own patter. But I don't like canned patter anyhow. (Have you seen the demo for [url=http://www.penguinmagic.com/product.php?ID=658]"The Hit Man"[/url]? Talk about awful patter . . . but an easy effect to see through -- and not original, by the way, which brings up another point about commercial magic, eh?)

I hope I've been clear enough. Basically, it is no one's right to assume you will not creatively use information unless you have agreed not to; and conversely, it is ethical to creatively use information unless you have agreed not to.

Cheers!
Keith
Message: Posted by: djrdjr (Jun 8, 2006 03:41PM)
[quote]
[quote]I was amazed by the "self-tying shoelace" demo video for days, and then I suddenly thought of a simple, cheap way to produce the same effect. Is it identical to the creator's method? I dunno. Probably not. Would I perform my version of it? I don't think so.[/quote]

It very well may be the same method (*grin*). I stepped through that video, and the method is obvious, even if the mechanics (what kind of p***, etc.) are not. The ethics of the situation can be reduced to the fact that once you have paid for information -- or have been given information -- without strings attached, you may legally and ethically use it without such strings.[/quote]

Hmm ... it might be legal and ethical, but by definition I think it would be [i]impossible[/i] to do a shoelace effect without strings. :)

--Dale.
Message: Posted by: Utkarsh Sinha (Jun 8, 2006 08:19PM)
Wonderful post sehrgut!

Thanks for all that time you spent typing to clear our doubts!
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 8, 2006 10:16PM)
[quote]Hmm ... it might be legal and ethical, but by definition I think it would be [i]impossible[/i] to do a shoelace effect without strings. :)[/quote]

Hmmm . . . very true, that! Although the NLP crowd would have us believe that the merest suggestion of untied shoelaces could cause the mark to see them. And once a figment of the imagination has been created . . . ;)
Message: Posted by: landmark (Jun 8, 2006 11:17PM)
Serghut: Thanks for some cogent arguments--I don't agree with most of them, but I respect what you've said and how you've said it.

You say you keep your writing under copyright--why? Clearly there is some part of your creation that you wish to maintain control of, even though it's out in the public. But this is a luxury that as a writer you can afford. For the most part, creators of magic have no such legal protection of effect and method. They have only the ethics of the magic community to fall back on. If your writing were slightly altered and then published, without due compensation to you, would this make you happy? If you were Dan Brown, would you be okay if I pitch my movie about a code hidden in the paintings of Rembrandt that leads to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years?

The analogy to Open source software is a good one, but that can only exist [i]by mutual consent[/i]. In fact, that's what this very site is about. If we choose to, we post our ideas publicly with the understanding that it is here for the public to play with. Even then, though, it would seem Scroogish of someone to take someone's posted effect, and not even ask for permission to use it for a paid performance.


Yes and in some way I agree that those awful demos on P*****n, deserve what they get. It really isn't rocket science to figure out those demos--it's practically exposure. But still and all, creators need to be compensated for their work--even if you can figure it out.

Yes, creativity feeds off prior creativity. No doubt. And we should be playing around and feeding off each other's ideas. However, when and if the time comes for paid public performance, the ideas that you use that are not yours and not in the public domain, should need permission/compensation to be performed.

When I saw the self-tying shoelace on television, I thought, oh that's pretty cool, and came up with a way to do it fairly quickly. But whether my method is the same as the creator--even if it's superior--when it comes to paid public performance, I would buy the effect to compensate the inventor, because it was his thinking that got me going on this. I don't believe that effect has been around for centuries--I'm no magic historian, but I've never seen that effect described anywhere in the past fifty years, before now. There is a significant difference between the originality of that effect and a cut and restored rope. There's a reason why everyone wants to copy that trick--and it's not the method!

Same with coin in soda can. Great idea. Coin in bottle's been around for a long time, but this is different. The coolness of the idea is why you want to figure it out and duplicate it in the first place. The inventor should be paid if it's a matter of paid public performance, lousy demos and all.

All the best,
Jack Shalom
Message: Posted by: Erdnase27 (Jun 9, 2006 01:37AM)
With other words when you figure out a trick you will still pay 40 bucks for it Landmark? Well I think it is great that you will do that but you know.. I don't have a job.. Im still a student. I don't do paid shows either. When I figure out a trick for example Joker's Wild on P/******* ill use the money to buy another magic trick instead. My money goes to the magic community but I will not pay for effects I already know.
Message: Posted by: SOHA (Jun 9, 2006 09:21AM)
MichielTummers,sehrgut,

I'm with you guys.

Buying a trick is not about ethics, it is about personal choice.
I've bought many books and videos not because I was obligated by ideologis of ethics (which I feel are kind of dumb), but because I wanted the personal satisfaction of having them in my collection. [b] IT IS A LUXURY NOT A RESPONSIBILITY [/b]

I've said before, [b]IT IS A BUSINESS[/b], we (consumers) buy what we want, not what they want us to buy.

Ask anyone who have the tools and skills, if they don't make their own gimics, e.g. trick coins (shells, folding, etc.).

It's all about personal choice and availability.

Wil
Message: Posted by: lockedroomguy (Jun 9, 2006 10:01AM)
I'll remind everyone again that everyone has a different code of ethics, and I think they're entitled to it. So when I say I disagree with sehrgut, it doesn't mean I'm saying he's wrong, because who am I to say? But I do disagree.

In addition to that he or she is mixing up the concepts of rights and ethics, sometimes in the same sentence. Of course it is anyone's right to copy an effect - that is not what the question was about.

Michiel's argument is just awful. You don't get to say it's ethical to take things because you don't have much money. Food or medicine, maybe. Anything else? I don't think so.

Wil's argument - it's a cogent argument, "ethics are irrelevant to buying or not buying magic tricks," but of course the whole point of ethics is that it's a general code that guides your personal actions in all things. I don't think it makes any sense to say that your ethics don't apply to some situations.

I actually don't feel that strongly about this - I can definitely understand the argument that says, "If no one ever makes use of the information they get from other people's ideas, then knowledge advances more slowly." So if you have to pay someone if you wanted to build upon an effect of theirs, then maybe the art of magic doesn't advance as quickly, because some people won't want to pay, or won't have the money to pay. Same idea with software - if you make something useful, then why not just throw it out to the world and let it be useful? Then someone else will build on what you've done, and so on, and so on.

I can almost go along with that, but not quite.

Because I'm not working at my job for free. I could do what I do for free, and let other people build on it for free, and make the world a better place. But I would rather get paid for it.

There are some things that I might do for free, and give away, like Sehrgut does, if I had something to offer. But that would be MY CHOICE, not Sehrgut's. He's chosen to give away his software - but not his writing. I don't get to decide that I can take his software or his writing - he gets to decide.

Same with magic tricks. It might be a great idea for everyone to take ideas and build on them for free, but you don't get to decide which ones are free. Like I said before, there are THOUSANDS of tricks in the public domain. Build on some of those.


Regards
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 9, 2006 01:46PM)
Lockedroomguy, I appreciate your philosophy of constructive disagreement . . . it's refreshing.

[quote]In addition to that he or she is mixing up the concepts of rights and ethics, sometimes in the same sentence.[/quote]
Not exactly mixing up, but using interchangeably. I don't think anyone has a right to do anything unethical, and conversely, has absolute right to do anything ethical. Rights derive from ethics (not, as many seem to think these days, from the paternalistic State).

[quote]I don't think it makes any sense to say that your ethics don't apply to some situations.[/quote]
Absolutely correct here . . . ethics are nothing if not consistent.

[quote]I don't get to decide that I can take his software or his writing - he gets to decide. Same with magic tricks. It might be a great idea for everyone to take ideas and build on them for free, but you don't get to decide which ones are free.[/quote]
And I obviously don't disagree with you here! *grin* However, I think our main point of difference lies not in our individual ethics, but in our definition of a fair use and of implicit permission within that ethical framework. I would contest that when information has been [i]given[/i] without constraint, permission for unconstrained use is implicit. If this were not the case, [i]reductio ad absurdum[/i], you could not with moral confidence use information which had not had permissible uses outlined. Of course, if non-permissible uses are stated and agreed upon before transfer of said information, then they are binding.

Cheers!
Keith
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 9, 2006 10:02PM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-05 01:23, Utkarsh Sinha wrote:
But am I not "paying" them by giving credit to them?
[/quote]

NO. But you can start paying them by buying their product, learning what you can from it then contacting the inventor to ask about your improvements.
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 10, 2006 12:57AM)
In my opinion there are two different points here being confused as one.
If you are running through Penguin Magic's demo list and then seeing which effects you can figure out and perform then not only are you being unethical you should spend that time actually working or doing something constructive.
Opposite to that is the fact that some magicians feel that if they created something it is impossible that someone else may have also created the exact same effect (even method) independently. That is utter nonsense and very arrogant. If you see an effect and it sparks something to create something similar I also don't think that is unethical. It is also a method for the market to control the quality of the material.
I can make my own TTs but I don't because of the quality of for instance a Vernet. I can make my own Double backs and often I do but I still prefer to buy them again because of quality.
I love for instance McBride's videos and DVD's and even if I know exactly how he does an effect I still buy his material because he has little tips inside, some guidelines, some ideas and things that go way beyond the effect alone. Again a quality issue. You can compare here also Lee Asher's Twisting the aces vs Ghost kings. Why would I buy Asher's and not just copy the effect. Because he has tips in the video that are useful and the quality is high. Ghost kings are not worth the money and they lead to people just figuring out the effect and not buying the material.
So here is a counter question. If it is not ethical to watch a demo (I am not saying it is) and then figure out the effect and do it is it ethical for the many fly by night "creators" to sell us sub standard material and then cry when their "ideas" are copied?
This is a two way sword.
If you are going to continue copying of demo videos then the good ones are going to disappear. and if you are going to continue pumping out sub par material then people are going to copy your material rather than buy it.
Message: Posted by: Erdnase27 (Jun 10, 2006 07:24AM)
I didn't said btw it is bc I don't have money.. BUT why spent money on someting you already know. If I know effect A for example I think its wiser to buy effect B. My money goes to the magic community anyway. well maybe I am wrong now or something but it's just how I feel about it.
Message: Posted by: lockedroomguy (Jun 10, 2006 08:32AM)
Sehrgut,

Glad you could tell I'm trying to be constructive - I'm enjoying your posts as well.

You said, "Not exactly mixing up, but using interchangeably. I don't think anyone has a right to do anything unethical, and conversely, has absolute right to do anything ethical. Rights derive from ethics (not, as many seem to think these days, from the paternalistic State)."

This is where we lose common ground, I think. There are lots of things you have the right to do that aren't ethical in my view. You have the right to try to convince your grandmother that it's in her best interest to lend you all her money, and then go to Las Vegas and gamble it all away.

So sure, you have the right to take someone else's effect w/o paying for it. But as I mentioned way back, if I really wanted to that I would call up the originator and ask them first. If they're like you, then they'll likely agree. If they're like me, then they might or might not. You can still move on to any of the many new effects published for free online at Visions, or in magazines like Magic or Genie, or in the library...

You're saying that unless the originator told you that you can't take it, then you can. And I agree - as a matter of rights. But I disagree, as a matter of ethics.

Regards
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 10, 2006 10:25PM)
Rights are the face of a coin whose reverse is responsibilities.

One without the other simply cannot function.

Yes one can do as they please. And yes one will face consequences for ones actions.

Those who choose not to read the older books which are inexpensive may well find themselves buying works contained in those books at high prices.
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 17, 2006 03:25PM)
[quote]But you can start paying them by buying their product, learning what you can from it then contacting the inventor to ask about your improvements.[/quote]
[quote]Rights are the face of a coin whose reverse is responsibilities.[/quote]

Jonathan, I'm entirely in agreement with you. I've been following this thread with interest (as well as reading some older threads on the topic -- I got to see some of your other thoughts on "borrowing" ethics). I'm still not comfortable having a subjective definition of what constitutes legitimate ethical use, especially since such legitimacy is unclear throughout the magic community.

Giving credit to the originator of an idea -- if known -- is good form, and we might draft it into a code of scholarly ethics. Putting forth a good-faith effort to discover the originator of an idea is good scholarship, likewise. Both are expected in other disciplines, and I see no reason why such objective standards would not apply. However, in no discipline -- neither in arts or sciences -- of which I am aware is it considered unethical to use something which is legally in the public domain as public-domain material, bound by the two above constraints.

(For example, the Western blot, a biochemical procedure, is used in labs all over the world. It was never patented (though it arguably was patentable). People make their own reagents, every chemical house sells custom reagents, and the originator of the procedure doesn't receive a penny. However, every paper that uses Western blotting cites the seminal paper detailing the method -- [i]Burnette N, Analytical Biochemistry, 112:195-203, 1981[/i]. Most scientists have never read the paper, but failing to cite it is sure to get your paper rejected by the reviewers.)

Maybe I'm in a minority treating magic as such an academic discipline, but a code of etiquette -- rather than ethics -- seems more in order. When creators make their wishes clear, it can safely be assumed that anything in the public domain is intended to be there (or cannot, of necessity, be anywhere else).

A good example is Borodin's [url=http://adessoverlag.com/cezanne.htm]Cezanne Code[/url]. A signed non-disclosure agreement must be signed before purchase. This effectively precludes -- by mutual agreement -- the "spinning off" of alternative saleable effects based on the code.

An example on the other side would be Michael Ammar's performance table plans. I haven't seen them, but if they're not patented -- and if no non-competition agreement is signed -- anyone purchasing the plans can legitimately manufacture and sell such tables.

There have been a lot of thoughts in this thread based on subjective definitions of "the ethics of borrowing". I'd like to be able to have a working objective standard. Here's my start:

1. Credit the originator of the effect.
2. Attempt to locate the originator of the effect.
3. Honour all constraints as to the use of the effect as agreed between yourself and the originator.

-Keith
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 17, 2006 11:49PM)
Keith,

My additional concern comes from the aspect of magic that is built upon secrets. As you pointed out one can buy magic without taking an oath to protect the secret from disclosure and also to only cite sources and NOT teach secrets which can be found in original sources.

One is free to ask for an agreement to keep the stuff to yourself and until it is put into public print... no gossip and no derivative works go into print. And of course one is expected to do the stuff for muggle audiences. No sense in teasing magicians. Accept those terms and you can have almost anything I know and if it's not mine to give I will point you to the inventor so you can ask directly.

I see this path as a win for all on that path as it helps make bonds of trust in the community and forms peerships over time. I see it as a win for the art as it helps speed up the process of developing new works. I see it as a win for the audiences as they get to see the best of what we can create. Others are free to take this path of sharing information... or not. It's really a matter of being trustworthy.

As you pointed out, when sold without such a promise, the secrets become mere commodities and quickly turn to gossip then trivia. That which could serve as gold in our economy of secrets is turned to worthless paper when secrets can be traded for mere objects.
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 19, 2006 09:59AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-04 02:26, Utkarsh Sinha wrote:
Let say that I watch a demo of "coin through soda can" or any other effect. I think about it, and I devise a method of my own. Is it ethical to do it if I credit the creator?

I had a debate with a magician friend on this topic. He said that it was unethical.

I think it is ethical. Because while you are thinking about the method, you can come up with some new moves or effects. And these new moves can make magic better than it is today. It even improves your creativity, so you can create new effects!

What do you think?
[/quote]

Guys,
what are you talking about?
I see no problem in that. You see an effect you like and you perform it also, even maybe using the same technique. Does the audience care about which technique you are using?

Sorry for this question but really, what you mean by "giving credits"? Do you mean that before performing a trick you have to mention "thanks to this and thatnks to that?" I guess not, because if you mean this than every magic show should start with one hour of credits.
Maybe you mean that "if you publish your effect you should give credit", than I understand the question and agree with you.

I am magician because some other magicians explained me the art (also books of course), and there are some magiciand that are magiciand because I taught them the art. I do not expect them to give any credit to me. I am just happy there are other magicians.

// Andrea
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 20, 2006 05:08AM)
Andrea,
People are going to explode after what you said and although I don't entirely agree with you I will back you up and say I rest my case.
If Arrogance in magicians disappear and humbleness returns none of this would ever be an issue.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 20, 2006 01:04PM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-19 10:59, Bonnie Kids-A wrote:...I think it is ethical. Because while you are thinking about the method, you can come up with some new moves or effects. And these new moves can make magic better than it is today. It even improves your creativity, so you can create new effects!...[/quote]

If I see your house, and think of a better way to decorate and live in it, do you mind if I have the construction crew over?

if not, then please explain how you wish to distinguish between private property and IP which is private?

If that's just too much to bear at this time, consider your credit card info. Let's say I have it and think I can spend your money better. Any problems there?

As long as you stay clear of my property (person, property and IP) I will stay clear of yours. But I will alert my friends that you have issues and leave them to do as they please.

Remember, good ideas are quite scarce. There is no shortage of people. Let's be wary of the law of supply and demand.

To close this on a positive note, if you like somebody's idea, you can support them by buying their work. If you are not so well funded as to be able to afford their work, perhaps you could just write to them and let them know what you'd like to do. They may choose to help you simply because you asked.
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 21, 2006 01:30AM)
Jonathan is right except I don't like the examples and that is what makes this a difficult problem to discuss.
As for the house you may not have your crew over but if you think of how to incorporate what you see in my house into yours and change it would you consider that stealing? Even if you don't change it. Yes if it was designed by an architect that has his design rights protected legally but if they are not protected you have to consider the ethical implications which are not governed by the law. This is why this is such a difficult discussion.
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 21, 2006 03:48AM)
Abc,
I do not really understand.... Do you mean that I am arrogant or not? and also I do not understand why should people explode on what I said.
Maybe my English is too poor at that level, but please try to explain you in other words..

For you rinformation:
I AM COPIED EVERYDAY!

Not only in magic, but also in the "normal" life.
What is the solution I found? When people copy me, they are already late, because I have already invented something new.
Of course this is also cause of frustration for me, because I do not like to be copied as very few people give me the credit.

But let's remain in magic: I do not want to be arrogant, I want to understand. If I see a magician presenting a trick in a nice way, can I do it also or before starting the show I should mention him? Or should I ask him permission to present the trick?
Please tell me, just try to answer this question.

You understand I am in disagreement with that, as I see it "against the art". How could the art evolve with such barrieers?

I agree instead that if you write a magic book (that you sell), and in this book you mention some tricks or ideas or presentations that actually you have "copied" from somebody else, it should be fair to give the correct credit (even if that "somebody else" has probably copied another "somebody else"..

// Andrea
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 21, 2006 11:58AM)
Andrea,
I didn't mean you are arrogant. You are not in the least arrogant and I did say I am on your side.
I also don't think Jonathan Townsend is arrogant. In fact I think he is the biggest contributor to the magic Café.
I think magicians who "invent" some stupid sleight that they think no-one else could possibly come up with and then try to sell some below par instant download or DVD they made and cry when someone else does the same effect is arrogant. I think someone who does some effect that I can look at and then see a much easier or more effective way to do it because I have studied literature of magic and then incorporate their effect into something I do is not only not stealing but when they cry foul they are doing so because their livelihood depends not on performing or inventing magic that one can perform but by selling inpractical nonsense from a website and then think they are the gift to magic.
On the flip side I think guys who sit in fromt of the computer and browse through demo videos to see what they can copy need to get a life.
The truth about ethics is that you can NEVER make it black and white. If my friend engages in insider trading is it unethical for me not to report him. Most of the time yes. But what if he only bought 10000 dollars worth of shares, he didn't know what he was doing was wrong and has a family to take care of and stand to lose a lot by getting convicted of a crime he didn't know he was commiting. Would it be ethical to report him.
In my book no. never!
Ethics is designed to make us live purer better lives and do what is right and like in this example I think there are times when a new person may copy and effect and try it and I do not consider it wrong.
I do consider someone who habitually lloks at new effects and try to copy them wrong.
I don't think you are the latter so like I said I support you in what you feel but please try to not just copy. Individuality in magic makes you a magician and entertaining not becoming the clone of Tommy wonder or David Blaine.
think about it.
How many new magicians that are great are told "Man you are just like David blaine" the answer is NONE.
I also disagree with the way some magicians try to overly protect their rights but that is a disease born out of the lets just copy and download and everything disease. Almost like we can ensure that you wont die of HIV but then you have to jum out of a moving plane without a parachute.
Like I said before very catch 22.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 21, 2006 05:35PM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-21 02:30, abc wrote:
Jonathan is right except I don't like the examples and that is what makes this a difficult problem to discuss....[/quote]

I am truly sorry our world puts such a low premium on human life.

Likewise I am very annyoed our culture puts such a low premium on good ideas.

What do YOU hold as valuable and what would you like to trade for using my ideas?
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 22, 2006 03:34AM)
Jonathan,
I don't want to steal your ideas. I just though the house example didn't portray the message clearly which is why I did say you are right. I did also in my previous post say I think you are the biggest contributor to the Café.
I maintain though that there are people who do not have unique ideas but will fight until death that they are unique. These are the people I am annoyed at because they sell sub par nonsense to new magicians and promote their material as if they are ex or future world champions.As for trading to use your ideas I will galdly pay you of and when I use one of your ideas. No questions asked.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 22, 2006 10:32AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-22 04:34, abc wrote:..As for trading to use your ideas I will galdly pay you of and when I use one of your ideas. No questions asked. [/quote]

Thanks for the compliment.

One of the best compliments you can give (me or other creative types) is to ask those questions. Questions are part of how new things come to be.
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 22, 2006 10:49AM)
Abc,
I asked you to clarify because I didn't really get your English. Problem is not you, is me.As long as we discuss mats or electrical engineering in English it's fine for me, but in the everyday's life discussion I'm lacking so some rethoric sentences are over my head. Now I understand you and I also agree with you.
Actually I would like to say that I might copy one idea, but it is always changed according to my personality or according to the "local situation". I think I have never performed 2 equal shows, even if maybe looking at the trick-list they were the same. I always change my presentation according to the feed-back I see from the audience, and also change the tricks according to this feed-back.

I have to confess that I have never thougt about ethic in magic (apart for not reveiling the tricks) in the way you are discussing here. Interesting because also The Linking Ring starts to push in the same direction with srticles on Ethics.
But I have also to say I am confused. It looks a too smoky and complex situation to be formalized, even in our "magic branch".
Maybe the solution is to accept to be copied and always invent something new to stay ahead. If Johnatan does not copy me, I'll always find other 10000 people ready for that...

// Andrea
Message: Posted by: bclay (Jun 24, 2006 08:56PM)
WOW, What a topic! So here is my Question about this? I have some woodworking skill and I want to make my own sub trunk or head chopper and I know the inner workings of these, do I have to go buy the plans from some illusion builder to be ethical? I don't feel I should have to pay Paul Osbourn $15.00 to show me how to build it if I already know how to. So does that make me unethical? I don't think so. When I was in high school there was a kid in another high school that actually won some national magic compitition by coping Lance Burtons dove and candle routine right down to the clasical music(cant remember if was the same score but classical music non the less) to me that was the highest from of unethical behavior but he still won this national event?? With Lance giving out the award???
Theres my two cents
Brian
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 24, 2006 09:20PM)
Brian, the answers to your questions are in an old book, [i]Our Magic[/i]. I am sorry the judges in that magic competition tolerated, much less rewarded, the guy who did the copy of Lance Burton's act.

As to the illusions... you might find some critical data in the full/proper blueprints.
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 25, 2006 11:17AM)
I have been performing the egg bag with a bag done by me and by my brother some 15 20 years ago. Instructions were in a magic book (probably Patrick Page).
The Square Circle I used till some 10 years ago is built by myself. I was teenager and I had time. Now I do not have it anymore and I bought a "standard" one.

Is all of this unethic?
Andrea
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 26, 2006 02:33PM)
I think a few of you are missing the core of what this discussion has been about: that is, using effects which are being exclusively marketed. Egg bags are standard effects marketed by anyone who wants to, since no one holds the rights to them. Square circles are the same way: non-proprietary effects may be produced by anyone. I don't know a whole lot about stage illusions, but I have a hunch sub trunks and head choppers fall in the same category (well, maybe not the "latest-and-greatest mondo make-everyone-faint" choppers, but those working on the traditional principle). Make whatever you want -- from the tried and true stock of traditional props -- and no one will think the worse of you.

But this thread has strayed. It started off about performance ethics: is it ethical to perform a proprietary effect which was observed and whose method was deduced independently without purchasing the effect? It has along the way gotten around to publishing ethics, and I'm afraid some folks have gotten the idea that a lot of us think you shouldn't perform any effect without purchasing it from someone, which is not what any of us (I think) have implied.

Now, back on the original topic, Jonathan, I'd like to hear your take on the original question, since the topic had already strayed by the time you joined. What do you think enters into the ethics of performing a proprietary effect that you've seen performed and deduced the (or rather, a) method to (for example, a PM demo clip)?

Cheers!
Keith
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 27, 2006 05:29AM)
"Now, back on the original topic, Jonathan, I'd like to hear your take on the original question, since the topic had already strayed by the time you joined. What do you think enters into the ethics of performing a proprietary effect that you've seen performed and deduced the (or rather, a) method to (for example, a PM demo clip)? "

In my opinion, even if I am not Jonathan, I see no problem in that, from the formal point of view.
From the ethical point of view I think it should be mention the source of the idea if you in someway publish it and get credits for it.
If you just use it for your show, I do not see how you could manage to start the show with the list of credits... Audience does not care about that.

What is a proprietary effect? I think this sentence is the cause of the digression... is there anybody deciding once for everybody what a proprietary effect is?

// Andrea
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 27, 2006 06:46AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-27 06:29, Bonnie Kids-A wrote:...What is a proprietary effect? I think this sentence is the cause of the digression... is there anybody deciding once for everybody what a proprietary effect is? [/quote]

Have you read [i]Our Magic[/i]?

I could also hold back on this discussion till folks here have read [i]Atlas Shrugged[/i].

Most simply, for those who have yet to enter highschool... monkey see -> monkey do relegates you to being treated like a monkey. If you want to be treated better you will have to do better.

When the inventor of something publishes their work, your purchase of that work usually gives you license to use that work as given (in magic as we don't yet have separate performing rights).

Not to malign the apes on this one, as it seems pigeons also learn by imitation. Some friends call them rats with wings. I guess that makes copyists rats with wands.

How is your self respect today?
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 27, 2006 08:46PM)
I've been following these ethics discussions for a couple of years by now, and I keep getting a very strange feeling...

For instance, let's say I watch Jon (not to pick on you, Jon, but I will) do his version of Six Coins to the Pocket. I like it and I want to do it. So I look around in my library a bit (bear with me here) and find out that there's a version of this trick in J.B. Bobo's book, but it's different in the presentation and method. So I proceed to study and perform J.B.'s version right out of the book.

So far I think we can agree this is okay.

As far as a "general public" audience is concerned, it's the same trick: six coins go from my hand to my pocket. The patter is different, the routining is different, and the method is different, but the six coins still go from my hand to my pocket. The only reason I could think of for wanting to do Jon's version is to show it to people who "already know" J.B.'s version -- in other words, people who are interested in magic.

See where I'm going? I have to wonder how much of this ethics issue is really based on wanting to do stuff for other "magicians."

I'm all for innovation (I'm a theatrical designer, so that puts me in a creative field), but gee whiz, if I were performing strictly for the general public, I could pull together a whole world tour just from what's in Tarbell, Rice, and Adair. I wouldn't feel like I have to have the latest and greatest, especially if the general public has no clue that it's the latest and greatest.

Flame away! :)
Message: Posted by: CJRichard (Jun 27, 2006 11:40PM)
I think you're hitting the nail on the head, George.

I can't figure out why anyone needs to buy much of the stuff that's out there.

Instead of Jon's Six Coins to Pocket, how about, um, cups and balls? First, even with a cheapo plastic set, you're going to get instructions. Mark Wilson has a routine in his Complete Course book. There's stuff in Henry Hay. There's the original Hocus Pocus Jr. routine (admirably transcribed and annotated by Bill Palmer and available through him).

Now, I've seen a little online demo by Al Schneider. Hmmm. . . He's selling CDs. So what happens if one incorporates something from that clip into a routine without buying Al's CD? What happens if one coincidentally performs something that's on a tape or in a book by GAmmarzzo or somebody?

In order to ethically perform cups and balls, must one buy every bit of material ever marketed [i]AND[/i] get tutored by an older and wiser mentor [i]AND[/i] buy cups that weren't made in India and sold by a firm named after a bird?

I just saw an anti-ripoff site where somebody was accused of being evil for making a paddle-type trick that looked something like somebody else's paddle-type trick.

Where, indeed, does one draw the line?

Barnum was unethical when he made his own "fake" Cardiff Giant, but that sly devil is quite admired in some circles.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 28, 2006 05:08AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-27 21:46, George Ledo wrote:...For instance, let's say I watch Jon (not to pick on you, Jon, but I will) do his version of Six Coins to the Pocket. I like it and I want to do it. ...[/quote]

There is the problem as I see it.

I belive the term "coveting" applies there.

If you asked things might be different.

The underlying rationalization "there is truly nothing new under the sun therefore I can make claims upon any work made from things under the sun" seems the issue here.

As mentioned in one or both books cited earlier, there is a distinction between things found in nature and things created by people, as the latter reflects the effort/work/choices of people which forms part of their claim upon the item.

The claim of the copyist is dismissed by another precident, that of the case of a finder of a ship who puts on new boards and sails and claims it as their own. Most simply, if you paint it green and call it something else, it still belongs to its owner.

Taking a different example to illustrate; If Fred works froms Shakespear's play though changes the names of Romeo and Juliet to "Mickey and Colleen" and stages the play in Ireland... it's not his original work to sell to others.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 28, 2006 07:01AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-08 23:16, sehrgut wrote:... the merest suggestion of untied shoelaces could cause the mark to see them. ...[/quote]

Remember as you walk down the stairs that you are sure you did not forget to tie your shoelaces and are in no danger whatsoever of tripping and hurting yourself by being clumsy

And don't forget to use the spell checker so your typos won't improve your posts here either.

A B C D embedded commands
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 28, 2006 08:14AM)
Yes,
I didn't answer for some days because I needed to think about all of that. I see you have already been thinking very much, so I needed my time.

Jonathan, if you find a boat in the see, and nobody is on teh boat, it is your boat. You do not need to paint it.

Anyway I think we should just discuss MAGIC and nothing else. No comparison with any other life experience. They do not help.

Nobody of you considered necessary to answer my questions:

"If I see a magician presenting a trick in a nice way, can I do it also or -before starting the show- I should mention him? Or should I ask him permission to present the trick? "

From some of you (Jonathan for instance) I believe the answer is YES.. am I correct?

I still say that: if you copy some ideas and put them in your show, just do it. This is part of he art. If you write a book or CD or whatever and publish those ideas I think it is nice and fair (call it ethic) if you ask permission and give credits for that.

More requirements on this word (ethics) I wouldn't put.

Another question: what's all this for? What is the puropse of this "overdriven" ethics (at least I call it like that..)?
To avoid to be copied? You can put any barrieer you want, you WILL be copied.
As I said also somewhere else, if you have the phantasy to invent something new (or to have new ideas), you can find some other new ideas. There is no way to protect themselves from this.

// Andrea
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 28, 2006 08:44AM)
Anyone CAN copy. The consequences though, of having ALL one's "secrets" lost to the public domain and being left outside the loop on development of new stuff keeps most self respecting folks from copying.

Magic is about secrets. If you can't keep secrets it simply does not help anyone else to discuss their new works with you.

If you want to "do" someone else's work, perhaps you could start by asking them about it.

If I find a trick in an old book, it still belongs to that inventor. If I publish something that evolved from that work, I still need to cite that inventor. I was using the case from Roman law as a simple example from common law. Your example is about "salvage". I counter your example and suggest that since no tricks in magic are found in performance without a performer, that the notion of piracy is more directly applicable to what folks are doing for the most part.

Remember, ethics is about the "good" habits in a society. Good is most simply defined as "that which is rewarded".

Okay folks, have you read the books cited? It is one thing to ponder on one's own, but a tragic waste of time not to learn from the lifetimes of effort that is there for the reading, especially when pertinent and cited in context.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 28, 2006 09:29AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-28 06:08, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
[quote]
On 2006-06-27 21:46, George Ledo wrote:...For instance, let's say I watch Jon (not to pick on you, Jon, but I will) do his version of Six Coins to the Pocket. I like it and I want to do it. ...[/quote]

There is the problem as I see it.

I belive the term "coveting" applies there.

If you asked things might be different.
[/quote]
Okay, I'll buy it's coveting. And I also agree that if I asked, you might say yes, no, or any combination of them; it's your trick and your prerogative.

And BTW, I made up that reference; I don't have a clue if there's such a thing as "Six coins to pocket." :)

However, my point was that, as far as the [i]general public[/i] is concerned, the version in J.B. Bobo is the same trick as yours. So why in the world would I have any reason to copy yours, or rip you off, or "adapt" yours just enough to "prove" it's "my improvement," when there's a published version out there already?

I guess what it comes down to, for me, is the question of whether all this ripping off is more for personal amusement ("collecting cool toys") than for the purpose of having something to show an audience composed of the general public.

Oh, and Andrea, two comments...

First, from what I've been reading here for a couple of years, I believe that pulling from other life experiences helps tremendously. We don't have to re-invent the wheel on every issue in the world just because we're in magic. We can learn a lot from how people in other fields handle the same problems we encounter.

Second, to answer your question, if you see someone do a trick you've never seen and you want to do it, yes, it's proper to at least ask. It may turn out the guy bought the thing at the local magic shop, or found it in a book. But stopping your presentation to say "I saw John the Great do this last week" is pointless, since the audience won't usually know who John is. On the other hand, if you're doing the Sub Trunk and your storyline is about how Houdini did it, then mentioning him is part of the presentation.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 28, 2006 10:19AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-28 10:29, George Ledo wrote:
...

I guess what it comes down to, for me, is the question of whether all this ripping off is more for personal amusement ("collecting cool toys") than for the purpose of having something to show an audience composed of the general public....[/quote]

It gets worse that that George,

First, they feel the right to copy and show the copied work to other magicians.

Then they feel the need to publish their copy just so they get credit.

And from that we get generations of magicians who are both clueless and using copied material.

Which is okay if you don't mind casually dismissing them en mass for being in possession of "copied" material.

The tragedy is that they also act like monkeys with their hand in the tree stump. They won't let go of the coconut and yet can't get away with the coconut. There is nothing wrong with being a monkey. The tragedy is they also want respect as people and as artists.
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 28, 2006 11:35AM)
Jonathan,
I have never read "Our magic" and I don't even know what that book is. I wanted to ask Johnatan if he could send a copy of it to me, but I believe this is not the right moment.... (just kidding Jon).

COVETING? I had do google for that term: "That's coveting, when our desire for things becomes evil". If I googled well, I thinks it's exagerated.

I do not want to talk about other branches. Let's stay in magic. If I see a magician performing a nice trick and I believe this trick can suite my show, I'll put in it and I will not mention it's name in front of my audience. My audience are NEVER magicians.

Of course performing in front of magicians is another stuff, it is the same as publishing a book or a movie or whatever. Here you should be fair (ethical).
Jonathan, are you sure that you and we (at least George and me) are talking about the same things?

When you say "...First, they feel the right to copy and show the copied work to other magicians.Then they feel the need to publish their copy just so they get credit.
And from that we get generations of magicians who are both clueless and using copied material..... " I have the feeling that you are mentioning magicians performing to magicians.

Anyway, even if they copy you: in my opinion there is no other solution that preceeding them. And this can be applied not only to magic: look what APPLE did... they didn't stop when Microsoft copied their Operative System. They have their own (respectable) niche and they are always ahead Microsoft from user frendliness point of view.
But they didn't manage to win against Microsoft in a formal sue...

Barriers do not help.
/Andrea
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 28, 2006 11:50AM)
If you want to use something you see me do, ask. Most likely I will point you to the source, and if it's something of mine and I want it kept private, I will let you know. This is a big help if later on your write up your material and other magicians start using it.

[i]Our Magic[/i] is a classic work and probably well worth reading. It might be available as an ebook over on http://www.lybrary.com and available at a low price compared to the twenty dollars I spent on my hardcover long ago.

The quickie definitions of words offered online are usually simplified down to the point of newspeak. A useful dictionary will tell you the differences between right, correct and true, or between edict and fiat.

Yes guy, barriers do help and the first one is secrecy. From there we can get into basic personal respect and then into artistic integrity. But you gotta start with the notion of secrecy in magic. It's a need to know kind of thing. It takes away the puffery we show audiences and reminds us that others are possesive of their work.
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 28, 2006 12:00PM)
Jon,
I'm glad you didn't get angry of my joke...

:)
// Andrea
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 28, 2006 12:06PM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-28 13:00, Bonnie Kids-A wrote:
Jon,
I'm glad you didn't get angry of my joke...[/quote]

Not at all.

And my intensity on this issue is directed at making sure YOUR good work and developments are safe from unwanted copyists and worse. This way you can profit from your work when you choose to sell or publish.
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 28, 2006 12:14PM)
Guys,
I am on vacation from tomorrow.
I just wanted to say goodbye to all of you. I hope I will find one internet connection to continue the forum.
I will miss the forum if I don't find any..

Magically

// Andrea
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 29, 2006 10:37AM)
Where exactly would you draw the line between inspiration and copying? For instance, in the hypothetical "Six Coins to Pocket" routine:

What if the effect hadn't been in Bobo? If, however, you liked the effect and worked out your own method to accomplish a similar effect (similar enough that our hypothetical spectators would indeed link the two tricks as the same trick done differently by different people), would that be inspiration or copying?

I guess as a writer I've always had a dim view of out-and-out copying, but more than an acceptance of inspiration from others' works (including others gleaning from my own). I'm not exactly sure where I'd draw the line in magic performance, which is why I've been participating in this thread.

If I published something, I'd follow normal academic permission and citation criteria. In performance (which is in effect creating a new work with every show, due to the nature of performance art), I had honestly never thought about using any other criteria than I use for writing and music: namely, open inspiration from others' works, with an understanding within the art that a like reciprocity exists.

While I wouldn't copy anothers' patter or script -- any more than I'd use a paragraph or sentence from anothers' book -- I would have considered an effect to be along the same lines as a concept in writing: something everyone is free to interpret and demonstrate in their own way (a concept being a fundamental, unowned unit).

Obviously, though, this thread has made me undecided on the matter. What exactly is the "fundamental, unowned unit" of magic of which performances are interpretations? I had always considered it to be the effect, with the method and presentation to be the proprietary aspects.

Cheers!
Keith
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 29, 2006 04:45PM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-29 11:37, sehrgut wrote:
......Obviously, though, this thread has made me undecided on the matter. What exactly is the "fundamental, unowned unit" of magic of which performances are interpretations? I had always considered it to be the effect, with the method and presentation to be the proprietary aspects.....

Cheers!
Keith
[/quote]

I am happy to see that is not only me who has been affected by this thread... :)
/ Andrea
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 30, 2006 12:23AM)
I haven't posted for a while just to see what gets posted because I agree on most but disagree on some points.
Lets stick with the six coins to pocket. Now if I copy the routine it is by most deemed unethical because I am stealing the idea. Let's say that I do copy the idea but the coins do not go to my pocket but to a spectators pocket or a bag or whatever. In the second option am I still stealing because certainly the original performer of the 6 coins to pocket can not claim to be the inventor of transposing coins and then certainly he actually stole from the original creator by performing unless he read it in a book.
The discussion has discussed the black and white area of the ethics that are involved here but no one has ventured into the grey area which is where ethics are more important. I maintain that every situation needs to be looked at individually to make a judgement and that there are no set rules.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 30, 2006 07:20AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-30 01:23, abc wrote:...
Let's say that I do copy the idea but the coins do not go to my pocket but to a spectators pocket or a bag or whatever.

In the second option am I still stealing because certainly the original performer of the 6 coins to pocket can not claim to be the inventor of transposing coins and then certainly he actually stole from the original creator by performing unless he read it in a book.

...there are no set rules.
[/quote]

Would you clarify the second paragraph quoted above?

And you are correct, rules (right/wrong) are context dependent. I try to use "the golden rule" as a guide on these things. Should you ever be fortunate enough to have been inspired and then to realize your dream you will know what one side of the situation feels like. The perspective of the copyist is "monkey see, monkey do" and we know how monkeys belong in zoos, have no civil rights and may make good incubators for disease as well as a fun meal if you go for monkey brains.
Message: Posted by: abc (Jun 30, 2006 09:17AM)
Terrible sentence construction and I am supposed to be able to teach it,
Should read Am I still stealing? because .....
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 30, 2006 09:47AM)
[quote]
On 2006-06-29 11:37, sehrgut wrote:
Where exactly would you draw the line between inspiration and copying? For instance, in the hypothetical "Six Coins to Pocket" routine:
[/quote]
You may want to look at two of my columns on this topic, in the Buffet section. One is titled "On adaptation and inspiration: a trade secret revealed," and the other one is "On creativity, plagiarism, and ego."

Yes there are a lot of gray areas, but creative types have been using inspiration and adaptation for thousands of years and still coming up with fresh ideas. Basically, what real creative types do is go back to the original source -- the original idea -- and see where it takes them. People in my line of work think in terms of "It's fun to come up with something fresh and better than the last guy" instead of "Let's see, if I change this and that, then I can prove it's different according to copyright laws." In other words, we don't look for loopholes -- we look for honest innovation. If we wanted to spend our careers looking for loopholes, we would have become sleazy accountants or sleazy lawyers.

What we don't do is get all worked up over whether we come up with something substantially the same as somebody else. Most of us are honest about this, and tons and tons of perfectly good ideas have been tossed into the bin once we found out they were even remotely similar to someone else's work. But that's where being creative comes in: you go, "Oh, well, I can probably do better anyway," and move on. In other words, we spend our time and our energy being creative, not worrying about it and discussing it [i]ad nauseam[/i].

What I'm beginning to see here in the Café is more of a Hollywood-stereotype scientific mentality than a creative one. It's an old joke that researchers often rush into print right after "discovering" something just so they can get the credit for it, and then proceed to spend their time and money "proving" it was an original discovery instead of going off to look for something else.

Professor Julius Threadbare in [i]Modern Labology[/i]: "I discovered that a drop of concentrated sulfuric acid, dropped on the root of the thumb from six inches, causes a red welt and hurts like hell."

Professor Beaker Crusted, in a rebuttal:"Professor Threadbare's discovery is bunk. It's been well known for hundreds of years that a very small quantity of concentrated sulfuric acid causes red welts on skin, and that it hurts."

Professor Threadbare in a counter-rebuttal: "Yes, but no one had yet made the experiment on the root of a thumb (the left one, yet) from a height of six inches. Therefore I claim the welt and pain as the Threadbare Thumb Effect."

Actually, that little accident really happened to me back in high school chemistry. Maybe I should have written it up! :)
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 30, 2006 10:58AM)
Jonhatan,
you always talk about monkeys in a general way. It seems you extrapolate this discussion to the everyday's life?!?
I'll keep the MAcintosh example. A am a mac user since 1983 and I will ever buy a PC, but, frankly speaking, has this copying of MAC OS idea (user friendly, mouse based, windows based etc..) so bad for the computer community?
I mean, are you sure that people just make 100% copies and do not put somenthing of themselves while doing what you call "monkey copying" (contributing in this way to the so called progress)?
And, by the way, are you sure monkeys are so stupid?
// Andrea
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 30, 2006 11:35AM)
Folks, I use the monkey metaphor (or model) to capture a few ideas.

Firstly the copy by seeing as opposed to working from primary sources:
Watch a dozen magicians use a French Drop and you can pretty much be certain they all learned the thing by watching stereotyped gestures of other magicians. There is nothing wrong with the sleight and it can also look almost natural when done properly and in context. Yet we almost never see it done to look well. Just the copied gestures and outcomes. Watch the X, point at the X look it's gone. That is an example of where aping does not help us. Then look at the supposedly clever innovations of sucker vanishes. Usually even more stereotyped gestures and then the supposedly guilty cramped hand is shown empty. No thought whatsoever to the implications or consequences of this behavior. This is not so much an innovation as a patch upon bad technique and poor acting skills. All that because they felt it was more expedient to copy than to explore for themselves. If anyone wants some help in the basic vanish work, let me know in person. I have an acting exercise that may well help with this.

Now let's get to the grizzly fate of the monkey holding the coconut. "mine! mine!" it screeches while holding the coconut trapped in the tree stump. It will hold onto that coconut even when the hunter approaches. The monkey will snarl and show it's teeth but it will stay there, claiming the coconut and ultimately loose its life to the hunter.

If the monkey were more clever, it would get the coconut from the tree where it grows. If the monkey understood how dangerous it is to claim the work of another as its own, it would abandon the thing in the face of danger. But no, the poor animal is pre-programmed to value the possession of a found (trap) object more than it can value its life even in the face of danger.

Why do I use this example? I certainly have no dislike of animals. Yes I also know that pigeons do learn behaviors by imitation. So why the ape?

I choose to believe that people can be better than apes. There is the distinction I'd like to make. I'd like to believe a person would figure out that the coconut in the tree stump is a trap and abandon the prize inside long before the hunter comes.

Can you abandon claims upon such prizes?

In magic, as with puzzles made by craftsman, the found prizes in our literature are also doors (or paths) to the people who made the things. To attempt to make claim upon such a thing is most offensive to the maker and also disrespectful to the entire craft of making things, hence an insult to all who make things.

When you get to the door, knock, say hello to the craftsman. Most do enjoy hearing about what aspects of their work appeal to those who notice their works. And most of the craftsman I've met in magic are usually happy to help a performer realize their goals. A win/win/win for the craftsman, the performer and for the audience who gets to see something special performed.

So here we are, choosing between acting like apes or like people. The apes are doing the best they can just being apes. It's people who get to choose how they act and what principles guide their actions.

Ah the Mac-OS and MS Windows. Both of the primary parties involved visited somewhere to see some things at the XEROX-PARC research center where the Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointers metaphor was implemented for personal computers. The Palo Alto Research Center participation in the project made the ideas used a sort of public domain project. I like several aspects of both implementations of the basic ideas. I similarly see huge areas for improvement in both implementations. I will leave out a personal preference.
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 30, 2006 02:11PM)
I've been reading some of Bill Palmer's columns, and ran across an great way to put it:

[quote]Although we stand on the shoulders of giants, it isn't advisable to kick them in the face while we do it. ([url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=151965&forum=171&3]Intellectual Property and magic[/url])[/quote]

So, stand on their shoulders (with permission, if necessary), and try to keep your feet well-behaved. I think this is the crux of it. The root of a true magic ethos should be a respect for those whose work goes before; and closely second to that, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

Now, to conclude the ideas posited in my last post, I think that even an effect can be considered an expression of an idea (and therefore subject to ownership). I went back and read the two articles George Ledo recommended, and they helped me understand exactly what an effect is, philosophically. In the "six coins to pocket" routine, the ideas explored are very general: translocation, disappearance, and the like. The effect of vanishish six coins and make them appear in a pocket is ownable. If I see it done, and repeat it, even with "enough changes to make it different," it could still be recognized as that effect.

If, however, I was inspired by the principles behind it, my own effect might bear as much resemblance to SCTP as to a matrix (which expresses some of the same ideas in a different effect).

So I would say that you can start with ideas and follow them where you may, as in any other art. Expression, in the form of patter, routining, or effect, is owned.

Hmmm . . . clear as mud? It is to me, now. Thank you all for your experience and wisdom: I much appreciate the opportunity to learn.

Cheers!
Keith

ps. Now to work up a SCTP routine, eh? *grin*
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jun 30, 2006 05:22PM)
Jonathan,
I know about Xerox/Parc, and I don't want to open a discussion (never ending by the way) MAC-PC. I just wanted to say that PC copied teh idea of using this interface on the public domain from APPLE, and if I don't like it as MAC user, I admit it was good for the entire community.

French drop etc. In my opinion it's not important how you do the french drop. Once you can do it you are not a magician, but you cannot be a magician if you cannot do it. Unless you perform pure manipulation, where the attention is only on your hands, who cares if we do it well or not. Important is what the audiance gets.

Sometimes I feel that all this discussion is here because we are magicians performing to other magicians. We are here to entertain other people, and hopefully also get money for that.
Of course the art itself needs some purists that can technically better the french drop or any other move, and you can proudly be one of them Jonathan, but I don't think you should expect from us (or let's say from me, magician for kids) to think like you. I need to entertain, nothing more.

Andrea
Message: Posted by: sehrgut (Jun 30, 2006 07:33PM)
Andrea, I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you on this one. Though it's straying off-topic, I think one might bring up the old saw about things worth doing and things worth doing well. I for one have never performed magic in public as an entertainer before (my first time at that will be this fall, when I'm taking part in a local arts festival), but when I practice, I hold myself to technical rigour.

When you say that such thinking shouldn't be expected from a children's magician, you are in effect saying that good enough is good enough. Respectfully, good enough is never good enough, and better isn't better because it isn't the best. Yes, we do need some "purists." The art would be bettered were everyone a purist; and magic would be less seen as "kiddie entertainment" were children's magicians to think more like purists. The issue in this case is not entertainment versus technical perfection, but sheer artistic integrity.

Not to speak over much of that I no naught, but I do perform for children. And when I do, I remember my introduction to magic by Michael Ammar, and how he performed for children with absolute technical perfection. Incredibly simple effects (wand from purse frame, saltshaker through table, even jumping rubber bands) he presented with all his magicianship. Venue did not affect the quality of his art, and I hope it never will mine.

*stepping off of soapbox*

Sorry for the rant, but you happened to touch on a nerve there . . . *grin*

Cheers!
Keith
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 30, 2006 08:04PM)
Let's get the facts to start.
No mac vs pc here

Both Apple and Microsoft visited XEROX-PARC and liked what they saw. Both are copies in that sense. Let's move on.

Magic TO magicians? Try FOR. And even then artistic integrity has its demands. Funny how you are trying to argue with folks with theater backgrounds about performing. Have you ever taken direction?

About the French Drop... and similar examples, yes it all counts. But again that takes us back to character, motivation, intent and communicating those things to the audience during the performance. IMHO most in magic may as well be vogueing when they do sleights. Strike a pose!

If you see some magic you like and simply don't have the courage and integrity to discuss your wants with the performer I need to leave off as I am not qualified to help you with sorting that out.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Jun 30, 2006 11:37PM)
Okay, not to get 'waaaaay off topic, but what's the point of doing magic "for magicians?" Sure, I know woodworking enthusiasts, and model-railroad enthusiasts, and astronomy enthusiasts, and so forth, like to run "inside stuff" past each other for fun, but, really, what's the point?

Maybe I'm just being naive here, but, if I were still performing, I'd want to perform for the general public, not for other people who are into magic. Sure, I did it back when I was active in my IBM ring, but the point back then was to practice and try out stuff we wanted to do for the general public -- not to stand there and try to fool each other.

Ah, for those old simple days when one version of the French Drop was enough, and we didn't have to argue and agonize about whether it was ethical to copy somebody's "new and improved" version just so we could use it on people who already knew the original French Drop...

But then again, there were millions of years when we didn't need cell phones either. Pardon me, mine's ringing. :)
Message: Posted by: The Bonnie Kids (Jul 1, 2006 08:22AM)
Guys,
then we close this digression.
I didn't want to tell you "look how good I am and look how bad you are", but for some reasons you got the message like that.
The art is not the french drop. It couldn't exist without it, but it has to go beyond it. In my opinion it is the ability to understand the audience in front of you, to misdirect it in such a way that they ar entertained, to pretend to etc. Much much more beyond the french drop. And I actually have to say that I STICK on that.
This does not minimize the importance (very big actually) of purists, because as I said, the art does not exist without the french drop (which is actually just one example).
I also didn't mean "good enough is good enough". Your audience decides what good enough is.
I fully respect your stand-point, but please just let me say mine. Or maybe I should let you continue the discussion among yourselves as I have nothing to contribute.
/ Andrea

".... I for one have never performed magic in public as an entertainer before (my first time at that will be this fall, when I'm taking part in a local arts festival), but when I practice, I hold myself to technical rigour....."

I wish you the best for you show!
Message: Posted by: abc (Jul 1, 2006 09:24AM)
Please excuse me for saying this but there is a different between defending the ethics of certain actions and being an intelectual purist and in my opinion this discussion has ventured into the latter.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Jul 1, 2006 01:23PM)
[quote]
...they feel the right to copy and show the copied work to other magicians.

Then they feel the need to publish their copy just so they get credit.

And from that we get generations of magicians who are both clueless and using copied material. ...

The tragedy is that they also act like monkeys with their hand in the tree stump. They won't let go of the coconut and yet can't get away with the coconut. There is nothing wrong with being a monkey. The tragedy is they also want respect as people and as artists.
[/quote]
Like they said in "The Big Chill":

Michael: I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex.

Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing's more important than sex.

Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?
Message: Posted by: Banester (Aug 31, 2006 10:47AM)
Did you watch the demo and then create your own way to perform the trick or did you watch a demo which taught the trick and then added or created from that?

If it was the 1st suggestion I would say it is ethical, happens all the time in industry called reverse engineering.