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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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Jonathan Townsend
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Oops, looks like it went directly to YouTube.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Andy the cardician
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I actually just marketed a new Doofus move, earning me great reputation and wealth. My modification/improvement is that I smile before executing the move.
Cards never lie
Bill Palmer
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That's great thinking. Depending on how you smile, it can either conceal that you look like a doofus or make you look like a bigger one.

Either way, it can be great misdirection.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Larry Barnowsky
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FYI:

Everyone knows that Doofus stole the move from Schmendrick.
Jonathan Townsend
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We still remember Schmendrick with the Schmendrick Subtlety though folks tend to overuse it especially with the odd color sock bit.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Andre Hagen
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Hey, by the way Jonathan...you have to love the the trick junkies...They keep magic dealers in business, and keep the creative magicians creating.

Without the amateurs there would be no magic business.

Andy
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one - Albert Einstein
Jonathan Townsend
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If they loved the art/craft they would not be trick junkies.

The trick junkies seem sufficiently debilitated by their fetish items as to not form a social threat to date. Let's hope is stays that way.

As to supporting a market cluttered with derivative works and unauthorized copies of original works... such is a moral issue I prefer not to address.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
KC Cameron
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Derivative works is an issue I would like to address. Most magic is built upon other magic. When is a modification of anothers trick ethical? How little need it be modified? It it the apparatus, or the effect, that is important? If I can do an effect similar to the Doofus Effect, but done in a different manner, it it ethical for me to sell/perform it to other doofus'?

Other than near copies, it all seems to me to be pretty shaky ground. Before anything can be enforced (which I doubt could happen), we would have to be able to describe what is ethical, and what isn't. We can talk about this, and claim some things are unethical, but upon what is this based??? - I fear most is based on our gut. My gut is pretty big, so my opinion is probably better than yours. *G*

We magicians certianly get bent out of shape over this, but I have yet to see any viable way to see if one has “crossed the line”, much less where that line really is hiding. Everyone seems to have their own personal line, and many move it when it suits them. I imagine our forefathers had similar issues with inventions, which is where the laws come from. I imagine those laws will not get any better than they are now.

Magic is a living thing, and I think this attempt to stifle it is not helping it. In order to grow, it needs rich soil. While file sharing and exposure does hurt individuals, I think it helps magic over all. To me, magic IS NOT so much about secrets, it is about performance. Most people will not investigate, and those that do, so what? They will probably forget quickly, but they will probably be bitten by the magic bug too.

My feeling is things are about as good as they are going to get, secret wise, and the limited exposure only pushes us harder and makes us more creative. Look at the car industry. Much of it is based on secrets too. If other industries can accept the law and realize there is no more, why can’t we?

Blah Blah Blah . . .

Hmmm I just got an email from the Magic Depot:

Hello Kerry! Mile 4 of the Royal Road is now available for instant download, FREE! Simply login to your account or visit the link below:
Jonathan Townsend
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The question really comes down to asking when a work merits recognition as something more than a 'variation' or "cute bit" or even a performance script using known methods... ie when is the end result novel or somehow worthy of being offered?

Picsso recognized cubism when he saw it being done. And Dali recognized surrealism when he saw it.

But to be fair, it's silly to ask a person with Praeter Willi Syndrome about when some food should be eaten... or a market built up from trick junkies about when an item should be offered. Such people have their NEEDS and such cannot be addressed by any rational, legal or moral codes... it's a health problem. The professional entertainer needs fully worked out scripts, reliable props and support for the props as things happen in real life. On the other side we have students who need to combine the methods they are shown to create works they can explore by performing and in that process of discovery find out what works ... it's called learning. If student level exercises (example: create a coins across using only fingerpalm and two-ahead) are put into or literature we are ultimately asking future students NOT to learn those lessons for themselves but instead just to learn names of trivial variations of common themes.

Writing as a self respecting adult and student of magic I just find it sad to see student homework level offerings being sold as wholesome entertainment or full fledged accomplishments worthy of recognition in our field.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Bill Palmer
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Captain:

There may be something to what you are trying to say; however, the industries are different from magic. With industries, in order to get maximum life out of it, it must be patented, then the patent runs its course.

With magic, which is an art form, the secrets are the life blood of the art. If there is an infringement in industry, the law provides a yardstick for settlement. In magic, there is no yardstick unless something has been patented or copyrighted.

However, magicians are pretty good at taking care of their own. For example, when a certain magician in Las Vegas came out with his own version of a floating sphere, enough of a ruckus was raised in the community that he went to the originator of it and got permission to manufacture it.

Now the same magician is trying to protect his intellectual property and may be overstepping it a bit. In cases like this, the person who is trying to manufacture the item that is being considered a knockoff bears the brunt of proving several things. He has to prove he came up with it independently or from a source that predates the one that is claiming it was knocked off. In the case of an independent discovery, he has to be able to prove that it is different enough to bear producing. Some principles have been around for so long that it is basically a no-brainer to take an idea that has been applied to, say, a ball, and apply it to, say, an asrah form or even to some other household object.

In the case of the downloaded version of RRTCM, there is nothing illegal here. The book has been out of copyright for some time. Once it's out of copyright, you can't put it back into copyright, unless the book is one of those that is covered by the Restoration of Copyright section of current copyright law. There are those who argue that if something is legal, it is ethical. I'm not in that camp.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
enginemagic
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Quote:
On 2006-07-07 18:45, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
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
interesting .Many like to learn things ,especially if its neat & enjoyable.I found many subjects enjoyable,and studied books plus tinkered with the actual objects associated with she subject to learn all we can about the subject weather it`s magic or mechanics.everything is avaible to the public to learn.That is what librarys are for.The local library here in my small town has 15 books on magic. I find that very impressive for our town that main street is only 3 miles long.Most of us on here want to learn magic so we can intertain our freinds & share magic at churches,rest homes,partys,and fairs
Keep on entertaining people. Be OPEN,AND EXPRESSIVE!! it makes for a good time for all you entertain
Chuck
theres a lot to learn out there,many interesting subjects,and hobbies to enjoy
teoswand
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usa
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I have read in one of Street magic magazine issues that there is a page we can download full resolution posters of magicians because copyright of those posters has expired, but I have forgotten the link...does anybody here knows where can I find them...??
Bill Palmer
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I don't think anyone will post that link. Some of those posters have been re-done, and by applying another quirk in the law, the remakes of the posters have been copyrighted.

HUH!

Consider this:

Hypothetically -- you want to use music in your act. And, hypothetically, you like Baroque music, so you decide that since all of J.S. Bach's works are in the public domain, you will use the Goldberg Variations as your background music.

Is it legal? Maybe. It depends on who is playing it. If it is being played by people you have hired to play it, and they are not charging you some arranger's royalties, etc., then you are okay, but you can't just snag a copy of it off the internet, because THAT RECORDING has its own copyright, and THAT ARRANGEMENT has its own copyright.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Dick Christian
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In amplification of the information provided by Bill Palmer and others on the question of when copyrighted material passes into the public domain the following citations from the “Copyright Basics” (www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf) offer some corrections, clarifications and additional information:

Works Originally Created on or after January 1, 1978
A work that was created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of “a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

Works Originally Created and Published or Registered before January 1, 1978
Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published with a copyright notice or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either case, the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright was eligible for renewal. The Copyright Act of 1976 extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for copyrights that were subsisting on January 1, 1978, or for pre-1978 copyrights restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), making these works eligible for a total term of protection of 75 years. Public Law 105-298, enacted on October 27, 1998, further extended the renewal term of copyrights still subsisting on that date by an additional 20 years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a total term of protection of 95 years.

Public Law 102-307, enacted on June 26, 1992, amended the 1976 Copyright Act to provide for automatic renewal of the term of copyrights secured between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977. Although the renewal term is automatically provided, the Copyright Office does not issue a renewal certificate for these works unless a renewal application and fee are received and registered in the Copyright Office. Public Law 102-307 makes renewal registration optional. Thus, filing for renewal registration is no longer required to extend the original 28-year copyright term to the full 95 years. However, some benefits accrue to renewal registrations that were made during the 28th year.

For more detailed information on renewal of copyright and the copyright term, see Circular 15, Renewal of Copyright; Circular 15a, Duration of Copyright; and Circular 15t, Extension of Copyright Terms.

After downloading the above citations I contacted a personal friend who is a patent, copyright and trademark attorney (and, coincidentally, the grandson of James C. Wobensmith, the patent attorney for such notable magicians as Thurston and Jansen and creators such as Massey and Brema) for further information. It is his interpretation that in order for copyright protection to be extended under the provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976 and subsequent Public Laws cited above it would have been necessary that the original copyright (including any applicable renewal) not have expired at the time the law extending coverage was enacted. This suggests that, contrary to one of Bill’s early comments on this thread, no material would have reverted back into copyright protection once it had passed into public domain upon expiration of the original copyright.

So, for example, since Annemann died in January 1942, the various Annemann material available offered for download from Trickshop,com (most of which was copyrighted in the 1930s-40s) would have passed into the public domain by 1970 and only that material the copyrights of which had been transferred to others who had then received extensions beyond the original 28 years and which were therefor still in effect when the Copyright Act of 1976 was enacted would still be protected by copyright.

A specific search on the words restoration of copyright on the copyright.gov web site revealed only references to the restoration of copyrights pertaining to certain motion pictures, material copyrighted in Mexico and Canada (pursuant to NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Act) and material covered by the Berne and Uruguay conventions.

Having said all of that, while there certainly has been no shortage of piracy, unauthorized copying, and publishing of copyrighted material within the magic community, I find the proliferation of what can only charitably be described as "highly derivative" works, sans attribution, equally disturbing if not more so. While the are undeniably examples of true "independent creation" and/or "unintentional duplication" there are also far too many examples of obvious and intentional misappropriate of the work of others being passed off as original by persons who can safely be presumed to know exactly what they are doing.
Dick Christian
Bill Palmer
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You will have to point out which of my comments is contrary to what you posted.

As far as what is covered by the Berne and Uruguay conventions, these are for the most part works that were covered by copyrights in their home countries, but whose copyrights we (the US) did not recognize for various reasons, some of which were political.

For example, until we became signatories to these two conventions, we did not recognize copyrights from the former iron curtain countries, such as Poland, Hungary, Russia and the smaller Soviet countries. Also, we did not recognize copyrights on works that were published in foreign countries in the English language, but not simultaneously published in the US. This was why most of Supreme's books also listed Abbott's as a publishing house, and most of the Harry Stanley books listed Tannen's as the publishing house of record in the US. It's also why nobody was able to prosecute Al Mann for knocking off the Harbin book. However, in Canada and England, these copyrights were completely valid (including the ones from the iron curtain countries). Now that we have signed onto the Bern and Uruguay conventions, we have been forced to recognize these copyrights AND in many cases, pay up to three years' back royalties on sales of these works. These works include books and sheet music, and possibly some recordings.

Regarding the Annemann material, courts have normally found that the earliest copyright and its renewal were the ones that were valid for the purpose of prosecution of copyright infringement. There is a question about how Dover was able to get the rights to the Crimmins book Annemann's Practical Mental Effects which was published as Annemann's Practical Mental Magic. The original copyright was good until 1972. Tannen's acquired the book from Holden's and renewed the copyright in 1963. This creates a rather odd sequence of numbers in the copyright game.

However, Dover has been very diligent about checking out copyrights to see which ones have actually expired. They have a team of copyright attorneys that let them know what is what. This could have been another case of certain addenda to the original work causing the new work the be a derivative work, which would keep the clock on the original copyright still ticking.

The thing about the material in PME is that all of it was taken from various sources such as the Jinx, which had earlier copyrights.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter too much what the law actually is. Since 1976, IP law has been in a state of flux in this country, and court cases determine what the law means. But court cases have always been a modifier for existing law.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Dick Christian
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Bill,

It is, at best a minor quibble. The statement to which I referred was very early in this thread, specifically in your post of July 4, 2006 when you said:

Quote:
For the first time in the history of the US, material has gone from the public domain into copyright protection.


From my reading of the citations I quoted, I'm not sure that material the US copyright of which had expired prior to the enactment of the Copyright Act of 1974 and was therefor in the public domain reverted to being protected by copyright. Perhaps you can provide an example/clarification or perhaps I'm misunderstanding the citations.

The issues surrounding the use (or misuse) of IP not protected by copyright is a whole other (albeit related) topic about which volumes could be written -- and probably have.
Dick Christian
Bill Palmer
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You misread the sentence. I never said any of it had a valid US copyright. The material in question had valid copyrights in the country of publication, but not in the US, due to various quirks.

1) Magic by Robert Harbin -- no copyright in the US due to lack of simultaneous publication. Now protected.

2) Anything published in an Iron Curtain country -- example, anything by Kabalevsky.

3) Anything that was published in Germany where the copyright fell into the hands of the Nazis, also material published in Austria and/or Czechoslovakia. Ottokar Fischer's work, for example. There is a question about the legality of the Hofzinser translations, because they are derivative works of material that is still protected by Austrian copyright. This is not the case, though, with Illustrated Magic, because the rights to the book were purchased before the Nazi's took over.

An interesting case would be that of a tune called "Modřanská Polka." This is a Czech song that was written in 1927 by Jaromir Vejvoda. The copyright on the tune fell into Nazi hands when WW II started, so it may have been completely legal to play this tune without any form of royalty payment (after the start of WW II), if the player did not sing the lyrics or announce that they were playing ... "Beer Barrel Polka."

Now the copyright to the melody has been restored to the Vejvoda estate.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Dick Christian
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Bill,

Thanks for the clarification. I stand corrected.
Dick Christian
Bill Palmer
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That's okay. It was a rather obscure thing, except for people who had been publishing some of these musical items in the US.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
zhouluyi
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Entering in the discussion a little late... there was some mention of derivative works, what about translations?

I ask that because more than once I wanted to translate some classics into Portuguese (I'm Brazilian). Since I was worried about copyright problems, and since it's more of personal project - I don't intented to formally publish it, just to distribute it among the magicians circles here - I never carried it out, I translated some selected chapters on request or to talk about the subject on some posts (I'm a member of the largest magic forum in portuguese).

What can I do about that? Am I allowed to translated Erdnase and other books published by Dover (they seem to publish public domain only)? How can that work be distributed? May (should?) it be sold or given?

Regards,
Luiz Borges
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