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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Everything old is new again » » Magic Books and the Public Domain (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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airship
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Jonathan, I understand and respect your point of view, but in my opinion you are raging against the storm. In the words of hackerdom, "Information Wants to Be Free." The printing press made information a commodity and turned reading from a rare ability to one that was demanded by the masses.

The Internet has spread information far and wide, and by making it ubiquitous has made it seem cheap. There is no reversing this phenemonon. The genie is out of the bottle. But, like the music, movie, and publishing industries, you still long for the day, long past, when information could be controlled.

Magic, more than any other profession, depends on secrecy for its success. But secrecy is simply not to be had in this day and age. If you can't protect your credit card information, what chance do you have at keeping the secret of a magic trick? If you share your secret with anyone, the odds are that it will be available to everyone at some point in the future - maybe tomorrow.

The good news is, with so much information available, the majority of your audience is simply uninterested in finding out about magic's secrets. They're too busy with Bradgelina's baby, or politics, or the Simpsons, or porn, or something much more interesting to them. They simply don't have time to ferret out the secrets of magic. So the odds are good that you will continue to perform for people who (mostly) have no idea where that rabbit came from, or how their card made it into that lemon. I think magic is still viable in the Information Age.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-06-19 11:59, airship wrote:
Jonathan, I understand and respect your point of view, but in my opinion you are raging against the storm. In the words of hackerdom, "Information Wants to Be Free." ...


Were that information not "magical" I would pretty much agree with the premise. Our craft depends on secrecy. Pretty much like the "intelligence" field. Like them we have no interest in propagating data which has utility to our guys in the field.

And yes, most magic books and videos are well on their way out the the free internet as free information. Just one of the reasons I am annoyed with those who propagated some of my ideas without my permission.
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landmark
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I agree 100% with airship.

Jonathan wrote:
Quote:
The visibility of the IBM and SAM is an issue of itself.

If folks like Criss Angel and David Blaine put a link to the association sites on their pages with a "if you want to see more magic, and perhaps even become a magician... come and say hello to us"


Jonathan,

Do you really want that first knock on the door to IBM or SAM to be from kids who were inspired by a TV special and want magical powers or imagine themselves to be Harry Potter? I'd much rather they went to the library and picked up some Bill Severn books, and figured out that with some creativity, rationality, personality, and work they might entertain some of their friends and family. From there, the interest has a chance of growing in a more mature manner.

silverking wrote:
Quote:
The books on the library shelves that contain magics greatest secrets are going to be taken out by those who will read them and then go on to not only perform the tricks and effects badly with no practice or rehearsal, but tip the method on the slightest prompting.


Really, I don't know which libraries you are speaking of with "magic's greatest secrets." I live in a pretty big city, and the casual reader does not have access to Paul Osborne's illusion plans from the local public library. What most public libraries have nowadays is a big empty space at 793.8, so that the kid that just watched the latest Blaine special goes to the Internet to get his first magic education, with all the attendant commercialism and pirating. Much better to have their exposure to magic from a general public book from the library. Heck, I'd much rather thay have access to Royal Road from the library than be downloading Internet cr*p. Those who are ready for it will learn, and those who aren't, won't be able to follow it anyway. But at least they'll learn something about the spirit of magic in a non-commercial, legal space.

Jack Shalom
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-06-26 13:46, landmark wrote:
...
Do you really want that first knock on the door to IBM or SAM to be from kids who were inspired by a TV special ...


Yes Jack, IMHO the quicker the connection from fantasy to real people the better.
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landmark
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Okay, I don't want to have a knee-jerk reaction here, so maybe I need to hear more about why you think that.


Jack Shalom
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Usually people come into magic looking for something. It seems to me that the sooner they make personal connections the sooner they can find what they want or see that it's just stuff and a hobby ... fun for some and magical for the audience, no hobbits or demons to be found.

Kinda like seeing the store Santas in the employee lounge of a department store versus meeting someone who does that job while out of uniform in the Caféteria.
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landmark
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Well Jon you have a lot more patience than I do! Smile Not sure how many would be willing to take on the hoards of Blaine wannabees with no mediation. (BTW I actually happen to have a lot respect for Blaine, but that's another topic).

Even Dorothy and her three buddies had to go on assignment first before finding out the wisdom of the Wizard.

Surely asking or encouraging a wannabee to read a book first can't be a bad thing can it?

Jack Shalom
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-06-30 22:37, landmark wrote:...Surely asking or encouraging a wannabee to read a book first can't be a bad thing can it?...


My guess is that some may take guidance from an instructional video. But a book? As in reading, matching pictures and text and looking up words?
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Bill Palmer
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That still doesn't answer the original question about Public Domain.

Before the copyright law changed in 1974, you could copyright a book, a photo or a piece of music for two 28 year terms. Then it became public property. That's what the Public Domain is.

In 1974, the law was changed so it became the life of the author or composer plus 50 years. Then that was extended to life plus 75 years. Corporate copyrights were 75 years.

In 1996, the US signed the Berne accord, which means that now we recognize foreign copyrights. Some of these have much longer terms than American copyrights. Not only that, but there is the Restoration of Copyright Act which has restored the copyrights of material from the iron curtain countries. We did not recognize these copyrights.

For the first time in the history of the US, material has gone from the public domain into copyright protection.
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djrdjr
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Quote:
On 2006-06-30 23:09, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
My guess is that some may take guidance from an instructional video. But a book? As in reading, matching pictures and text and looking up words?

That's what my son does. Some kids still love to read, Jonathan! Smile
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2006-07-05 16:58, djrdjr wrote:
Quote:
On 2006-06-30 23:09, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
My guess is that some may take guidance from an instructional video. But a book? As in reading, matching pictures and text and looking up words?

That's what my son does. Some kids still love to read, Jonathan! Smile

Yeah, even some older kids like yours truly. Smile
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Bill Palmer
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On 2006-06-06 12:28, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
While the text of the books are in the legal public domain, the secrets behind the magic are not. They were, are and really do need to stay in our domain of magicdom.

Oh, bullpucky! Public domain is a legal term, pure and simple. It revers to when something is no longer under copyright protection. I wince every time I see someone misusing the term.

Once a piece of information is printed it is published. That's the definition of publication. Publication can also include video. The copyright expires at a term around 70 years after the death of the author or at 75 years from publication if it is a corporate copyright. Then it goes into the public domain. That means it belongs to everyone. (note -- these terms change at the whim of congress)

Even though we would like for it to be so, there is no special protection for magic secrets other than not publishing them.

That's the way it has always been.

That's the way it always will be.
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kaleido-magic
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Did the original questions get answered, or am I mistaken that the person asked if there is a list of the magic books that are now in public domain. I too would love to know this as in theory, the contents of the tricks included and patter would also be in public domain and thus can be used by a magician without fear of interfering with another fellow magicians rights to derive an income. To put simply, its free and we can use it.

Does anyone have a list?

Thanks.
Brett
Bill Palmer
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No. You have to check on works on an individual basis. Works go into the public domain on an annual basis.

When you start checking the copyright laws, there are several things to bear in mind.

1) Make sure the web site you are checking is in the US. Some foreign copyright laws still do not apply to US copyrights, even though we have signed the Bern accord and the Uruguay convention.

2) Make sure the information is current. If the information is more than a couple of years old, chances are it is out of date.

3) Some works published before 1974 may have a copyright notice, but may not actually be copyrighted. The automatic copyright provisions of the current copyright law do not apply to works published before 1974.

IP law in general and copyright law in particular changes rapidly. While the laws are passed by Congress, the interpretations are made by judges.
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Andy the cardician
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Just to add to Bill`s comment - the laws also differ from country to country. So what is legal in one place might be illegal in another. Europe is currently looking into expanding the duration of the copyright protection.
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Bill Palmer
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A lot of this has been moderated by the Berne accord and the Uruguay convention. If a work is under copyright in its home country, it is also copyrighted in the US. This has made for some real headaches for American publishers who publish derivative works.

A classic example is Magic by Robert Harbin. When the book first came out, there was a provision in the US copyright law that actually placed the book in to the public domain in this country. The law stated that if a book in the English language was published outside of the US without simultaneously being published in the US, it went into the public domain.

This is why you see so many Harry Stanley publications with Lou Tannen's stickers on the page with the publisher's name. The same is true for Supreme and Abbott's. (Publication does not necessarily mean that they were printed in this country. They just needed a publisher of record. If publication meant the act of printing, then there would be a lot of publishers in trouble, because of the huge number of books that were printed overseas for all the major publishers in the US before the change in the law.)

The Harbin book had no US publisher of record. So when various people whom the oldtimers know decided to copy the book, Harbin was fairly much up the creek. There was no basis for suit. However, even though the copies were legal, they were definitely immoral.

But the law has changed. Now, the Harbin book is once more copyrighted in this country, under the restoration of copyright act. That doesn't make the knockoff copies illegal. However further printing of them would be illegal.

Now, the Magic Circle owns the book. The copyright expires in 2047.
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Banester
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A lot of the discussion has been on books and published material. One of the big problems is that people are sending thier friends and relatives these links for fun. Hey check this out <or> did you ever want to know how he did this. So people are getting information that they would never go looking for. How many people have mailed a book to a friend with a page marker?

Also something that I found interesting in one of David Copperfields newsletters was that he was flattered that someone would go through all the trouble of finding out how he did that paticular illusion, it must be a good one for them to go through all that work. <from Davids fan club newletter "Flying"> He also said he will never acknowledge one way or another if that is how it is actually accomplished.

Now if someone tries to use his name they will get a beating since his name is copyrighted.

Now don't get me wrong, I do not like any type of disclosure/exposure.

I think some of magic can be classified into categories such as basic, expert and advanced. While the items in libraries would be your entry level items, the expert and advanced items would require something more than going to the library or on the internet. I am not even about to say what should be in those catergories, but I think you have some ideas what would fall into them.
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Bill Palmer
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Banester:

I'm sure you mean well, but you really don't understand the correct terminology. David Copperfield's name is not copyrighted. It has the protection of a trademark. There is a big difference.

Copyright applies only to published material. Now published material can be in the form of a web page, a movie, a photograph, a book, a letter, a drawing, a song, a dance or any other of a number of other items, including computer chips.*

Trademarks are applied to products. Service marks are applied to representations of services. Trademarks are very specific. They cover not only the words, but the representation of the words.

Your remarks have nothing to do with the public domain. Public domain is, as I have stated before, a legal term that has to do with copyrights and patents. It has nothing to do with availability.

*Computer companies wisely took the path of copyright protection for computer chips, because the matrix to make them is in the form of a photograph. The copyright on a photograph has a longer duration than the patent on the same chip would.


Posted: Mar 19, 2007 5:14am
-------------------------------------------
Regarding the restoration of copyright act. I may have confused some people when I mentioned this in the context of the Harbin book.

The foreign publications that were subject to the restoration of copyright provision of the new law had never gone out of copyright in their home countries. The US simply did not recognize their copyrights as valid, just as some Eastern countries do not recognize US copyrights.

Once a work has gone into the public domain in its country of publication, then it is permanently in the public domain.

Some works have had their copyrights artificially extended by various means. For example, certain Houdini posters are copyrighted. The originals aren't copyrighted, but the new versions that certain publishers have done, which are different sizes, colors, etc. have been copyrighted. The same is true of various pieces of music. A song such as St. James Infirmary may be in the public domain, but a specific arrangement of it, such as one played by the Preservation Hall band, may be copyrighted.

Copyright is a very complex part of IP law. And no matter how well-versed you may be in its general principles, it still requires a specialist to try a case.
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Banester
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Bill the reason for my interpretation was from what I could manage to make out from the Gov't web site:

What Is a Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. The 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly.

The copyright protects the form of expression rather than the subject matter of the writing. For example, a description of a machine could be copyrighted, but this would only prevent others from copying the description; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.

On Trademarks (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/doc/basic/trade_defin.htm)

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. Throughout this booklet, the terms "trademark" and "mark" refer to both trademarks and service marks

I agree with you Bill that a specialist is needed. That is a whole field in itself and I am by no an expert or even close to that in that subject. As far as public domain goes, Wiki has a pretty good definition of it, but it is quite complicated. Basic idea is :

Public domain comprises the body of knowledge and innovation (especially creative works such as writing, art, music, and inventions) in relation to which no person or other legal entity can establish or maintain proprietary interests within a particular legal jurisdiction.

Posted: Mar 20, 2007 11:50am
Sorry I got off topic there. Here is a very good link at determining what may or may not be in public domain:

http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/trainin......main.htm

And if you can make sense out of all of it my hats off to you!

By the way I would think it would be safe to assume that the books are still under the protection. That would be the published material and not necessarily the ideas in the book. Please correct me if I am not understanding that Bill, I think you have a better idea of how that works.
The art of a magician is to create wonder.
If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives
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Jonathan Townsend
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I suspect we are pretty clear about text and images being protected as works...

Here is some more: google.com

My issue comes from a basic concern for the things that make magic work which can be expressed, shown etc., in any number of ways.
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