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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » Just what are the rules? (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of gimpy2
Since I was the original poster Some 13 years ago I thought I would circle back and answer my question.

For a little background, I raised this question after my first release. There was a complaint from a dealer that he owned exclusive rights to the method I was using. The product was pulled from the market. I was able at a latter time to contact the inventor who told me no such rights were ever sold to anyone. I was given permission to continue production with my version of the prop. I still sell them all these years latter.

I said above this thread brought me few answers to my question. Not quite true more than a few builders contacted me privately with there opinion. Most on the Café and the industry as a whole were very helpful. But there is a handful of folks out there that don’t think anybody new has the right to play.

The biggest problem you think you have when you start doing this line of work ,is that you won’t be able to invent enough products to build a line. I quickly learned that there would be no shortage of things to produce. I will never be able to build all the things I would like to.

In my 13 years in the business I have only been called out once.Most stuff I produce are new versions of old props with a new look and updated method. So what are the rules? There are none that all would agree on. Here are some of. The things I do to stay out of trouble.

First you want an circle of friends that know more than you do. Once you have an idea run it by them and see if they feel there is any conflict possible.

Should you want to recreate a piece from years past, get the history on it. Many times you can get permission from the individual or family as long as long as they are credited.

Most of the time there is no problem but if there is it’s better to get out early before spending a bunch of time. No need to argue with anyone just move on. Plenty of stuff to build.

I write this today not to debate terms or ethics. Just thought someone in the future might be able to take guidance on my experience. I feel like I owe it to pass on what I have found as those who helped me did.

If's hard to make a full time living building magic props and most never make it. But as my late friend Tabby Crabb told me. If I can do it I guess anyone can

So if you find this note and want to be the next to jump in the building business I would be happy to help you.

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San Antonio, TX
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Profile of Drylid
What I've noticed is that even the big brands do it. Example is Rubberneck release on Penguin. The method is literally in Tarbell volume 1. Its not new. Its as original as turning your hand 90 degrees. This same thing is the reason I got my hands on a copy of Gaffed to the Hilt. So I can build the gimmicks myself like I was already. A flap card is a flap card, a box with a secret flap is no different than a bag with one. Its just put together a little different. I keep my business to other magicians. I don't market any effects. If someone says that want a box that makes stuff vanish, I build it, if it happens to be the same method as a 400$ trick, that's not my fault, I figured it out too. Usually I give em away to my friends for free, and they happen to tip very well with meals lol. That is of course unless I have purchased or seen something that the author requests is only for my use. Then I will honor that as I feel it is the right thing to do. But if I discover it in another older book, that request is null and void as they themselves have done what they are requesting I not do.
George Ledo
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SF Bay Area
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Profile of George Ledo
In my not-so-humble opinion, there are two separate issues involved. One is the method, and the other is the physical design of the prop.

If the method was published in a book or magazine a number of years ago, without a specific notice as to withholding rights, then I'd say it's there for the taking. It's not a secret anymore. Stuff in Hoffman's books, Tarbell, the Sphinx, and similar publications would fall into this category. On the other hand, Jim Steinmeyer placed a notice in at least one of his books stating that he owned rights to manufacture the effects in the book. So those are not there for the taking.

The other issue is the physical design of the prop. Back around '14 I designed and built a version of a prop for Stevens Magic. A couple of years later, a dealer saw the prop at a collector's house, apparently figured it was an antique, and proceeded to copy it for sale on his web site. I called him on it and he got upset, called the collector, and found out I had built the prop for Stevens. So he wrote back and pretty much said he wouldn't do it any more. What I was unhappy about was that he copied the hinging mechanism, which I had spent some serious brain matter in figuring out and building. Here's the prop in another collector's (Andy Martin) web site:

That hinging mechanism was not in the original sketch in Gibson's description -- and it was a feature of the physical design of the prop -- so, as far as I'm concerned, it was mine. The dealer could have created a different hinging mechanism for the box, and I wouldn't have had anything to say about it.

A couple of years later, the same dealer published the box in his column in a magic magazine, describing how to build it. This time I wrote the mag's editor, who wrote the dealer a note, and he agreed to post a retraction in the next issue. Joe Stevens also sent him a major nastygram.

So, in this case, the dealer built a prop that had been published many years previously, but used a physical design that had been created for the prop more recently. That was my problem with him.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine

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