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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » An interesting exchange regarding Intellectual Property Rights. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Ray Haining
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Yeah, Bill, I just checked my copy and there you are on the back cover flap! Now I know what you really look like. "Paramiracles" is one of my favorite books.

One thing about magic is that we do not publicly announce the creators of tricks when we perform them. When we go to a concert, we know that the orchestra will be performing pieces by Beethoven, Mozart, etc. When we go to see a play, we know who wrote it.

In magic, the creators are part of our "secrets." For the most part, even the names of the tricks are secrets. We don't want laymen to go looking up our tricks, finding out how they were done.

Imagine: "Good evening, Ladies and Gentleman. Tonight, in addition to various classics, most notably Charlie Miller's version of the Miser's Dream, I will be performing various original pieces by Vernon, Slydini and Baker. Hope you enjoy."

Just another peculiarity of magic, making it different from other art forms.
RickyD
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Quote:
On 2006-05-02 14:03, Ray Haining wrote:
Imagine: "Good evening, Ladies and Gentleman. Tonight, in addition to various classics, most notably Charlie Miller's version of the Miser's Dream, I will be performing various original pieces by Vernon, Slydini and Baker. Hope you enjoy."


How true! And how many people (besides wannabe pianists like myself) hear a piece at a concert and say, "Man, I've got to get my hands on the sheet music for that!"

Magic truly is a different animal, in many respects.
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."
-- Philippians 4:23
Jonathan Townsend
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Ossining, NY
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Quote:
On 2006-05-02 15:42, RickyD wrote:...Magic truly is a different animal, in many respects.


Yup, based upon secrets and trust as opposed to purely academic or property values. The few who actually do work at this craft tend to be long lived and have very long and accurate memories.

And the price for messing with someone's priavte property in magic is also "different" than outside of magicdom. Make sure you get your tricks directly from the inventor, as it's not wise to associate or even do business with pirates.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
The Bonnie Kids
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Guys, I have been in magic for 20 years AND NEVER BEEN sensitized on this topic!

Is there any (more or less formal) source stating what is under intellectual copyright (I.B.M or FISM or whatever)?

I mean: The double lift must be part of the "public domain", but maybe the "sponge balls oby Goshman no..."

The Bonnie Kids
Turk
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Portland, OR
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Three questions:

1. Without your strict, unwavering and inviolate adherence to the moral principle of "If I don't currently own it, I won't watch it, read it or use it", you have engaged in moral relativism and situational ethics. Period. And, if you have, what makes your version of moral relativism and situational ethics more moral or ethical than anyone else's?

2. When the "sale of magic" became a business, did it perhaps lose the moral authority to insist that rules that might have applied to it as an "Art" should continue to apply.

3. In magic, pragmatically and generally speaking, does not the "moral/ethical" arguments seemingly break down primarily into two main arguments or positions?:

A. Those of the sellers/dealers (trying to maximize profits and revenues) and,

B. Those of consumers (trying to maximize "bang for the buck").

Might it not just be a question of whose ox is being gored. (Note: There are, of course, "crossovers" into each camp by some of those in the other camp but, I wonder, how many.)

Just asking.

Mike

P.S. Query. What constitutes a "secret"? If you are the only one who knows the secret (i.e., your invented magic secret) and you tell your best friend after he promises to keep it "secret", is it still a secret? How about if you tell a 2nd person under the same conditions? Still a secret? Howabout 10 people? Still a secret? Howabout 100 people? 500 people? 1,637,389 people? Still a secret? At what point can you "tell a secret" and the secret remains a secret? Should it make a difference if you merely tell the secret (with the recipient promising to "keep it a secret") versus if you sell the secret? Again, just asking.
Magic is a vanishing Art.

This must not be Kansas anymore, Toto.

Eschew obfuscation.
emm
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If you sell a trick you own you can not perform the routine. Having it is what gives you permission to perform it... as written. Now unless there is a patent involved you are free to do the moves involved - but you will have to come up with your own routine. IANAL so I can't advise how much you have to change the routine.

Magic is not much different from software development. Software has secrets and the effect of those secrets has to be available to the public to be useful. The secrets in software are algorithms. If I sell a program on CD, I have to stop using the program because it is copyrighted. But unless there is a patent on the algorithm it uses, I am free to create my own program that does the same thing and use it and even sell it.

There are two lands in the world of software: service and commercial. If I create a new algorithm to speed up the transfer of files between computers I have a choice of which land I want it to be in. If I choose service then I don't give them the program but instead use it myself to transfer files for them. If I choose commercial then I sell the program for people to use themselves and if I don't patent the usage of the algorithm then any company can reverse engineer my program and create their own. Not only is it legal but it is considered ethical and part of the competitive marketplace rules of the commercial land.

In the same token there are two lands in the world of magic: performing arts and commercial. For example - Jason Latimer does a great clear cups and balls routine. He has for the time being decided to keep it in the land of magical performing arts and as such the rules of the magic code apply. It doesn't matter if you can figure out how it is done, it is his and you shouldn't do it or sell it. If he later decides to sell it then he has moved it into the land of commercial and the rules of the commercial marketplace now apply. If there was no patent then anyone would be able to sell the "trick" wrapped in their own routine.

The problem everyone is having with their ethical dilemma is they are trying to keep tricks in both lands at the same time. You can't do that. They are mutually exclusive. If you don't like the rules of the commercial land then don't play there.

The commercial land is not killing the world of magic, the war caused by trying to combine the two lands is. Trying to apply the wrong rules to the wrong land is stifling innovation. Just as opensource and the competitive aspect of the marketplace has advanced software it will do the same for magic. Truly innovative concepts will be treated with value and will have the necessary precautions and price tag. $15 ebooks will not.

Which brings me to my last point. Instead of selling a cheap ebook of some little variation you have created - how about following opensource. Let your payment be the recognition of having your name attached to it and offer it up as the magic equivalent of opensource. There would need to be a structure in place to for the magic community; but that is a different topic.
BlackShadow
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I think this idea of you have to "buy the book to perform the effect" is just put forward as a money making scam.

Take a cookery book for example. Does anyone ever insist that the secrets of the recipe can only be carried out if you buy the book. Or a book on DIY, or playing tennis, or fancy dress costumes, or performing some juggling or any other skill you care to mention. These books will be borrowed from libraries or bought and sold on or maybe someone will watch a TV program based on the book.

When does the author ever say you can watch the TV programme but you must not make any improvements to your tennis game based on the programme without buying the book. Or that you can't borrow a book from the library and act on the information therein, or you can't use the info after you have sold the book. They don't because it is a scam idea. A scam disguised as "ethics" by people who want to sell books.

If a book is really that good it will succeed on its content. The book will be bought because it is good, not because of a scam idea. The only people who subscribe to this scam are sellers of books and those who have been duped by them in this false ethical charade. Don't fall for it.
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-07-28 13:50, BlackShadow wrote:
I think this idea of you have to "buy the book to perform the effect" is just put forward as a money making scam....


I argued in favor of this as a way to distribute licenses for the work(s) contained in the book. The book is the license.

Also, unlike any other field or profession our craft is based upon SECRETS. What entitles someone to use a secret? The book is the title and also serves as means of direct contact between the holder and the inventor.

What do you suggest?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
BlackShadow
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Sorry if I offended you there. I honestly wasn't getting at any one particular person who likes this idea, just the the general concept itself.

The system I would suggest is to treat magic books like any other book. A book that unlocks the secrets of certain recipes, or the secrets of the golf swing, or the secrets of the Jazz violin is just the same. You can't perform the biz without the book. If you like the teaching, you will surely want to possess the book if it is a part of your life for a while. That's only common sense and is due respect to the author.

But, to say the book is a "licence", and you can't make the recipes, or have to unlearn that fingering, after you have sold the book or lost it or returned it to the library is surely a step too far. It smacks of blatant commercialism over the power of knowledge and achievement. Personal improvement is to be cherished and transcends any licence. There are things more important than money.
Philosophry
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Jonathan, I was interested in this argument:

"Consider by contrast how things work when you buy a copy of the script for a play.
You have not bought the right to perform the play in paying theater.
Nor have you bought the right to sell your own variation."

I don't think it does what you want it to do.

I very recently bought a collect of plays by Albert Camus. Obviously, owning this book doesn't give me the legal right to perform any of them. Nor can I republish any of them. However, it is perfectly right and proper for me to publish my analysis of the plays, details of the plots, etc. I can also write my own plays about Roman Emperors or Russian Nihilists if I choose. "Highly derivitive" would be the probable reviews.

Generally, people have come on here moralising about performing, teaching, explaining, etc. other people's magic but without defended why magicians have a right to such special treatment. There seems to be two reasons against not revealing the secrets and neither of them are moral.

1. To prevent public expose - and so your audience's know how all the tricks are done.

2. To ensure magicians and/or magic stores make the most amount of money.

In the case of (1) magicians telling other magicians won't lead to this. The greater danger is someone buying a magic DVD and then telling all his/her friends. Or attempting to perform the effects, botching them, and revealing the secret. Even taking this into account, this will hardly lead to widespread magic exposure.

In the case of (2) I can't see how anyone is morally bound to the notion that magicians and magic shops must make the most amount of profit.

Magicians and magic shops have a right to make as much money as they can from magic. But this does not mean that others are morally bound to ensure that they do. A magician who sells magic, is entitled to his or her fair dues. The same as any other publisher. Once an effect is on the market, it runs the same risk, as any other product.

These aren't moral choices, they are personal preferences. Do you want to watch Caligula performed onstage or to hear me talk about it? Do you want to be taught an effect by it's original creator in their own words, with their own explanations or do you want someone else's account? Do you want to see Richard Osterlind perform his magic or watch someone who has bought his DVDs?

Magicians have their fair return when they sell magic, the same as anyone else. What is their moral justification for special treatment?

Morally, anyone has the right to sell their own secrets. What right do they have to prohibit others from revealing these secrets?
MagicbyCarlo
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Sorry to interject off topic, but Jonathan, 13900+ posts?! I'm coming down to Ossining to take you out of the house for some air. BTW nice to see your effect in Genii.

Back on topic. I really enjoyed most of this discussion. There were some very salient and intelligently made points. I will say that the price paid for publishing a secret is that once more than one person knows it, it stops being a secret. Frankly the idea of preserving published and widely known secrets is an endeavor worthy of Don Quixote. Those that publish thier secrets for profit risk the integrity of the secret. Moral or immoral is irrelivant to this topic. Had Wellington chosen to teach Misleading Mislead it would have been a choice based on his own ethics. Personally I will judiciously share my knowledge with fellow magi, because by the time I teach an effect I learned from some book or DVD it has my signature on it, meaning I've added my own twists and touches. You may not like that statement (this isn't directed at anyone speciffically but I'm writing in more general terms) but this is my way of helping other magicians. Knowledge is power, my father used to preach, and when power becomes too pripriortary it becomes dangerous. Books on magic have been published for centuries and now Video, DVD and the internet make the secrets of magic an open book for all who seek them, good or bad this is the way of the world. What we forget is that the secret behind the magic while important is only a fraction of what makes magic engaging as a form of entertainment. Get beyond the secret and you'll free yourself from this dilema.
Carlo DeBlasio
<BR>Entertainment specialist
<BR>and all around fun guy!
Banester
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Hmmm... had an interesting question on this topic, but let me start off by saying I don't condone what the "new user" was doing. Ok, here is my question on the subject. If the trick is readily available in lets say the library (no charges so nobody actually gets shorted money)would you have a problem teaching it to someone who actually does practice magic? Lets even go as far as saying they read the directions for the trick, but don't quite understand it. Would you be willing to clarify it for them? Now sometimes these tricks maybe for sale (card tricks, money tricks) but the for sale tricks carry the materials as well (cards, silks, etc).

Now before I get flamed for even suggesting it is ok to give out secrets let me state that I do not give out secrets (something I learned from my grandfather when he taught me my first trick at 10).
The art of a magician is to create wonder.
If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives
become filled with joy
-Doug Henning-
Jonathan Townsend
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Perhaps the teacher could also provide the original source so the student could continue their explorations?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
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