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abc
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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.
landmark
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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
sehrgut
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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)


Magic is a creative art. What that teen-ager was doing was creation of art, inspired by information made public. 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.


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.


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 Great Expectations? 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?


hehe . . . Actually, yes. I release almost all my works (except my writing, which I keep under traditional US copyright) under very permissive licenses, a la 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 "The Hit Man"? 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
"It is February, and time to take ink and weep.
One must always write of February while weeping."
-Boris Pasternak

"That night something of youth and beauty died in the elder world." -H.P. Lovecraft
djrdjr
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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.


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.


Hmm ... it might be legal and ethical, but by definition I think it would be impossible to do a shoelace effect without strings. Smile

--Dale.
Utkarsh Sinha
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Wonderful post sehrgut!

Thanks for all that time you spent typing to clear our doubts!
Want jaadu?!

"Reality is a mere illusion, although a very persistent one" - Albert Einstein

http://liquidmetal.in
sehrgut
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Quote:
Hmm ... it might be legal and ethical, but by definition I think it would be impossible to do a shoelace effect without strings. Smile


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 . . . Smile
"It is February, and time to take ink and weep.
One must always write of February while weeping."
-Boris Pasternak

"That night something of youth and beauty died in the elder world." -H.P. Lovecraft
landmark
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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 by mutual consent. 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
Erdnase27
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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.
SOHA
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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. IT IS A LUXURY NOT A RESPONSIBILITY

I've said before, IT IS A BUSINESS, 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
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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
sehrgut
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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.

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.

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.

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 given without constraint, permission for unconstrained use is implicit. If this were not the case, reductio ad absurdum, 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
"It is February, and time to take ink and weep.
One must always write of February while weeping."
-Boris Pasternak

"That night something of youth and beauty died in the elder world." -H.P. Lovecraft
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-06-05 01:23, Utkarsh Sinha wrote:
But am I not "paying" them by giving credit to them?


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.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
abc
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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.
Erdnase27
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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.
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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
Jonathan Townsend
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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.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
sehrgut
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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:
Rights are the face of a coin whose reverse is responsibilities.


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 -- Burnette N, Analytical Biochemistry, 112:195-203, 1981. 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 Cezanne Code. 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
"It is February, and time to take ink and weep.
One must always write of February while weeping."
-Boris Pasternak

"That night something of youth and beauty died in the elder world." -H.P. Lovecraft
Jonathan Townsend
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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.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
The Bonnie Kids
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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?


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
abc
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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.
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