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mjdowden
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I think Matt Johnson said it perfectly, a very clear and well written post mate, well done. Unfortunately though, there are also a lot of people having "their say" but adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.

For example, all the comments about giving credit to Sting (the non ironic ones), how we should listen to the real meaning of the words, or asking if Sting is getting royalties are pointless in this discussion so please let's not have any more of those.

Also, anyone saying that the idea of performing that kind of routine is cheesy clearly isn't a performer and has no idea about theatre and drama. Let's take David Copperfield and his work as an example. Where would he be without his sense of theatre. What would his routines look like with different music? They would have a completely different feel to them. One of the major reasons that David Copperfield's stuff has an effect on the audience is the well chosen music.

This brings me to another point. Copperfield's choice of music has become PART of his routines. When I first saw his Grandpa's Aces routine the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It immediately taught me the importance of theatre and music in magic. If we saw ANYONE doing ANY type of card routine to the "Cousin's" love theme, we would immediately think that they had seen Copperfield's Grandpa's aces routine and accuse them of not being able to think for themselves. Granted it is very tempting because often when you see a great piece of magic done to a really moving piece of music, it is hard to imagine it done another way. Also, if an audience had seen someone else perform a card trick using the Cousins theme and then saw Copperfield's routine, it would have less of an impact. This is why you're not supposed to "borrow" material from other people's acts because no matter how good the original is, when you see it for the second time it gets less, if any reaction. Someone has even said that the first time they saw Mr Farquhar's routine their wife cried? Even if this is a little over the top, they then go onto say that when they saw Russ' routine it had less impact and they thought the first one was better! OF COURSE that's how you felt, because when you see something for the first time, you associate it with the person you originally saw doing it, and the Shape of my heart is a very powerful track. This is the crux of the matter. One artist (the originator) should not have to worry about who in the audience has seen the other act.

Put yourself in Russ' shoes and think about it this way. Now that Mr Farquhar has won FISM and performed at a lot of conventions, if Russ performs his routine, what do you think anyone who hasn't heard of him is going to say and think?? You can't deny it, there is no other way of looking at it. Anyone who doesn't know Russ and his work will immediately say, "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Shawn Farquhar's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"

This is why Russ has been forced to come out and make his point. It is not mud slinging, it is simply that we all care about artistic integrity and originality, and it is NOT FAIR that Russ should have to worry about people thinking he's taken someone else's idea. People can say that it shouldn't matter but IT DOES and we all know that.

Finally it seems people are ignoring the elephant in the room. If, as the evidence suggests, Mr Farquhar HAD seen Russ' tape all those years ago then it means he was categorically lying about the situation, plain and simple.
Stanyon
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Quote:
On 2009-08-08 08:01, mjdowden wrote:
Put yourself in Russ' shoes and think about it this way. Now that Mr Farquhar has won FISM and performed at a lot of conventions, if Russ performs his routine, what do you think anyone who hasn't heard of him is going to say and think?? You can't deny it, there is no other way of looking at it. Anyone who doesn't know Russ and his work will immediately say, "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Shawn Farquhar's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"



Or looking at this from another perspective, does anyone outside of the magic community know or care who Russ Stevens and Shawn Farquhar are? I'm sure that if you polled the lay publc to name three magicians, Russ' and Shawn's names would never be mentioned. Does a FISM championship mean anything to the lay public? No.

Will anyone outside the magic community remember who won the 2009 FISM championship? No. Plagiarism? No. Theft? No. Artistic integrity? Dubious.

JMHO
Stanyon

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Leslie Melville
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On the other hand Steve, how would YOU feel if you had been accused by some of your peers (as Russ has) of lifting a routine from a (relatively speaking) high profile performer, when you know that you have been performing your routine for much longer and that you also suspect that in fact the reverse is the case?

Many years ago, here in the U.K. a popular Irish clubland comedian was performing a routine in his act with an out of tune guitar. It was a very, very funny bit of business. Some time later, another comic achieved some television success and lifted the guitar bit for himself. Because he had the bigger image, the routine became associated with him!

The Irish comic was obliged to drop the entire presentation from his act!

The material and circumstances are different, the morals are the same.

It has nothing to do with whether Shawn's routine is the same as Russ's - that's just a red-herring. It is a matter of perception. The fact that Russ has been accused (albeit by a small faction of Shawn's fans), indicates that there is sufficient similarity for the accusation to be damaging.

As has been suggested, it is possible that Shawn had forgotten from where the inspiration for his presentation came; it happens. Now that he has been reminded, I am sure that(like a true champion)he will acknowledge the fact - then we can all go back to plucking the wings off flies!

Leslie
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Tim Ellis
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Quote:
On 2009-08-08 08:01, mjdowden wrote:

Put yourself in Russ' shoes and think about it this way. Now that Mr Farquhar has won FISM and performed at a lot of conventions, if Russ performs his routine, what do you think anyone who hasn't heard of him is going to say and think?? You can't deny it, there is no other way of looking at it. Anyone who doesn't know Russ and his work will immediately say, "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Shawn Farquhar's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"



Or as has happened in this case - Shawn has won FISM and people are saying "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Russ Steven's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"
Ken Northridge
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Quote:
On 2009-08-08 04:33, Lee_Hathaway wrote:
How ridiculous, people arguing over something which doesn't belong to any of them. Shape of My Heart belongs to Sting and Dominic Miller who co-wrote it. Anyone else just fitted moves and flourishes around it. It doesn't take a big leap of the imagination to think that a well versed magician may hear some music about playing cards and think "hold on, I use music, I use playing cards"...Eureka!

Nobody other than Sting is entitled to claim ownership. If Shawn had ripped the routine performed to it, that's a different matter.

Interesting that a song which seeks to portray the utter pointlessness of war, disagreement, fighting and desire for wealth can in turn be the cause of such. Maybe if magicians spent more time listening to what Sting was trying to say, and less time throwing moves around HIS song to then claim as their own we wouldn't be in this situation.


Great post Lee. You made the point that I was trying to make but you made it much more clearly.

Quote:
On 2009-08-08 08:01, mjdowden wrote:
there are also a lot of people having "their say" but adding absolutely nothing to the discussion.

For example, all the comments about giving credit to Sting (the non ironic ones), how we should listen to the real meaning of the words, or asking if Sting is getting royalties are pointless in this discussion so please let's not have any more of those.


Sorry, I disagree. It’s the song we are talking about here and how it has inspired two magicians. No one is questioning the merits or talents of these two performers. I think it does add to the discussion.

Let me add some more.

Some of you may also find it interesting to know that the music to ‘Shape of my Heart’ was one of the few Sting songs written by his lead guitarist, Dominic Miller. Moved by the music, Sting went for a walk along the river and wrote the lyrics. So I guess you could say that the first person to be inspired by this song was Sting himself.
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mitchmagi
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Thick with intrigue.

We have Reg who remembers some 14+ years ago allegedly splitting the cost of the conversion of the tape with Shawn.

We have Shawn denying this - saying why would he pay when he already owned a multi-system machine.

Is it possible that perhaps Reg has confused Shawn with someone else ?

Or to play the flip side - even if Shawn did receive the copy of the tape ... we don't know if he ever viewed it ( I have hundreds of tapes in my collection which I have never got around to viewing )

Russ bases his entire attack on the input of Reg ... and uses this to discredit Shawn entirely. But there is one question which is unanswered ?

If Shawn maliciously 'stole' Russ' routine all those years ago, why then when hearing of Russ Stevens for apparently the first time - would you go to all the trouble of accusing the originator of stealing your routine ( which if we were to believe the allegations, Shawn knew all along belonged to Russ ) Not only that - but then initiate contact with the 'originator' branding them a thief, and continue the whole pretense of lies, lies and more lies in your correspondence and subsequent interactions.

Seems like an awful lot of work to go to - when all you needed to do was keep quiet rather than draw unneeded attention to your 'theft' in the first place.

Magicians are a crafty bunch - but this is pushing it a little too far ... where is Jessica Fletcher when you need her ?
ku7uk3
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I don't want to get involved with this fight, so this will be my only post. I want to shed some light on an area of this argument that has been left untouched - the transferring of a video from PAL to NTSC. Why?

1. To my knowledge, almost all videos in Canada of that time could play both formats. So they could easily have watched the video without any problems. Even if one of them did not have a video, the other would have. And at that time, I believe it would have been a lot cheaper to buy a new video player than pay for the conversion.

2. If the act was for private use, why bother paying to transfer it at all? Couldn't he have just watched it at a friends house?
The only reason I can see is to market or resell the video in your own country, which doesn't look to have been done. So I see no justification for why the video was copied / transferred in the first place. It doesn't make sense. It makes me believe the whole story was fabricated.

3. Then, back in the eighties we were still using betamax and had just entered into the cd-i, laserdisc and vcd media formats. Any conversion that might have taken place would have been to these media formats, would'nt they?

I don't know whose telling the truth, nor do I care. But I see flaws in this argument about conversion and in any case, why did it even happen in the first place. Maybe if we get to the answers about that, it might answer the others questions in the process.
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Shawn Farquhar
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I have arrived in Japan, where I can now use internet without restrictions. I have wasted most of my first day in Japan reading Magic Café, iTricks, Genii and the useless blog I will not promote.

I see that the "well respected magician" has been revealed.

Russ wrote:

"Recently a rather important piece of information has been passed onto me from a well respected magician, about a VHS promotional tape of mine that ended up in Vancouver in the mid-nineties."

How recent was this important piece of information given to you and why did you not email or call to ask me personally if this was fact or fiction? Why did you wait until after FISM? I have asked you several questions on these forums and you have yet to reply to any.

Instead you continue to repeat the same line:
"I'd like to point out that Shawn considered them close enough to accuse me of copying him.".
This is misleading and you know it. I was told by your friends that I was a thief first. I was told by these same friends that your routine was identical to mine. That is why I accused you of copying me! Once I saw your little routine I knew you most likely had never seen mine. In my previous reply to this misleading and repetitive statement you make I said: "No Russ I did not think they were close enough. In fact I was told by your friends at the FFFF convention that the routines were identical. I had never seen or heard of you for that matter! I contacted you based on their statements and soon discovered the routine had nothing similar other than the use of the same music. As I wrote above I thought we had settled this dispute. In fact you wrote, "I wouldn't want to ever fall out, and of course, as discussed before, I know that we've simply had the same presentational idea. In fact when a few people first told me of yours, I checked out what you were doing and found it to be obviously different to the extent that a rip-off wouldn't do." Now you appear to be upset that I used my routine to compete and win an award. You have also since written you were uncomfortable by my use of a stool ... what?"

I should also bring to your attention, in case you have yet to watch my performance from FISM 2009, that I did not use a stool, I sat at a chair and used a table too ... the only reason I use a stool during stage shows is to establish the stool before doing Kevin James snow routine. (Yes, I perform the routine with Kevin's permission and use different music too)

Reg Donnelly wrote:

"In 1994 I was in England with Francis Martineau and Russ gave us a copy of his promo tape It was in pal.The conversion to NTSC at
that time was more than I wanted to pay. So at a meeting a few months later (could have been early 1995) I asked Shawn if he wanted to pay half; and we both ended up with a viewable copy.
It is possible he had forgotten. I mean 14 years has passed."

Reg Donnelly

Reg had in the past traded me video tapes from the UK and Japan. These videos were usually FISM NHK or Wayne Dobson and Paul Daniel shows. I have no recollection of any promotional videos of any acts whatsoever. I have 100's of videos that I have collected, converted or traded and will say again that it makes no sense to me why I would have agreed to pay to have a video converted when I have my own conversion machine.

Perhaps Reg is mistaken? I can't be the only magician he traded videos with at the time. Perhaps he is thinking of Matt Ridley who was an avid collector of magic videos and a great dove act. Reg and I are not friends, but we aren't adversaries either. He travels in a circle of magicians who for the most part do not like me, but I can't imaging his post was made with malice intent. However the questions does arise why didn't he contact me first, instead of Russ Stevens? Why did he confide in Matt Johnson, but not speak to me at all?

Matt Johnson wrote:

"As many of you know I also live in Vancouver & have known both Shawn & Reg for many years now. I have considered both to be friends over the years so I find this post very difficult to write.

About 2 years ago while building props for my act Reg shared with me the fact that he had a promo tape of Russ Stevens. This came about because we were discussing FISM acts & happened to talk about Shawn's act as he lives in the same town as us. I happened to mention that it was very similar to an act by Russ Stevens & as I was born & raised in the UK I had seen Russ's act on television many times as a teenager in the early 90's.

My jaw dropped that day when Reg shared the information with me that he has shared with you here. Please understand that he shared this with me in confidence & because Vancouver is a small town when it comes to magicians I chose to hold this in confidence."


Matt, I do believe this was a difficult post to write. I am surprised that for two years you have never thought to ask me if the allegation was true. As your friend, if someone were to accuse you of something, I would confront you to find out both sides of the story. Your post is just a repetition of what Reg has said to Russ.

Over the years I think I have proved myself to be an ethical individual. Here are just a few examples that spring to mind:

a) One of my students bought a rip off version of the Cub Zag, built by Reg Donnelly. I wanted my student to not use the prop and in fact spent my own money to purchase him a used and authentic one from www.magicaution and put him on a payment plan to slowly pay off the cost.

b) I created a routine based on a principle of Jon Allen, noted UK magician, and have credited him in every publication and lecture I present. Why because he inspired the routine.

c) I have recently release Torn 2 Pieces which I created many years ago. When I first presented it to a group of magicians one was quick to reference Dan Harlan and an effect he created long before my effect. I contacted Dan and came to an agreement. Why ... it was the right thing to do!

d) On the day of rehearsal for the final contest at FISM I found three CD's laying on the floor in an unsecured dressing room. I opened them to discover one was my music, another's was Latko's and the final one was Marc Oberon's. I took all three with me and soon found Latko and gave him back his property. It wasn't until I was at the final rehearsal (the one accidentally broadcast at FISM) that I saw Marc in a bit of a worry as the ONLY copy of his music had gone missing! Without it he would not be able to compete. An unethical person could have easily sat silent. I assured Marc I had found his music and it was safe in my room and sent my Wife to retrieve it so he could compete against me in the finals.

Now ask yourselves, if I would be ethical for these, why wouldn't I admit I saw a video tape, liked the music, disliked the performers interpretation of the magic and was inspired to create my own! The reason I wouldn't is simple ... it's not how it happened! If it was the way it happened none of this would matter anyways!

Russ Steven's and his band of mean spirited bloggers and youtube posters just don't get it. It's a piece of music that cries out to be a card trick. I created one and it is good. Good enough that the two versions I have online have accumulated nearly 400,000 views compared to his 16,709 views on YouTube. Good enough to be a Featured Video this week! Russ even uses my name in his tags for his video to try to increase his views! For some reason he also uses David Copperfield.

I concede he found the music first. I also think he should be the only one to use it when presenting a back palming/card sword presentation while sitting on a stool or standing for that matter.

I promise I will never present a routine using back palming and the song "Shape of my Heart". pinky swear!

I have had quite enough of this ridiculous thread and Mr. Steven's attempt's to attack me ... what a great way to celebrate my achievement at FISM.

Respectfully,

Shawn Farquhar
2009 Grand Prix FISM World Champion of Close Up
mjdowden
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Hi Ken,

All the things you have written about the song, Sting and his guitarist etc are interesting and I would never dispute them. The point I was making is that the debate is about two magicians using the same music and whether it causes a conflict. The details of the song, sting's initial inspiration etc don't move the debate along or resolve anything.

Hi Tim,

"Or as has happened in this case - Shawn has won FISM and people are saying "Hmm, can't he think for himself? Doesn't he know that is Russ Steven's SIGNATURE MUSIC?"

A good point well made, You're absolutely right in THIS case people are saying it that way around. The only problem is that it is a small selection of people who are saying that, because we know how long Russ has been doing that routine. It leads back to my point that Mr Farquhar has been doing conventions and entering competitions with the routine and therefore the majority of magicians who haven't seen Russ performing would think the opposite! That is what Russ has had to defend against. None of us want to have people thinking we have taken another's idea.

Hi Stanyon,

Of course you're right, although I wouldn't say your opinion was humble Smile. In the grand scheme of things, no one knows who any of us are and it seems insignificant. However, in the words of Bertrand Russel, it is our intrinsic right to give "value" to things. Something that might mean nothing to someone outside the magic community might mean everything in the world to a magician. If it wasn't important, why would anyone enter a competition. If we use your logic then NOTHING would be important to anyone.

Well said Leslie!
russ stevens
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Hello Everyone,

I do not have a “band of bloggers”. After the FISM result I was inundated with emails from people expressing their disgust and my name was being mentioned on various forums and blogs (including the one run by Shawn Farquhar's friend Tim Ellis). That is why I had to respond.

I stand by every word that I have written and I trust Reg Donnelly and Matt Johnson implicitly. I don’t care how many hits Shawn Farquhar has had on YouTube and I fail to see what that has to do with the situation (apart telling us all about his ego!).

I know he’ll never admit the truth and so I have absolutely nothing more to say on the matter.

Best wishes and have a great weekend!
Russ
Andi Peters
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I have heard a rumour on the magical grapevine that the FISM judges are getting together over the phone to discuss the matter. Has anyone else heard the same?
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Russ, I can see that you'll have a tough time leaving this thread without getting the last word in and trying to convince everyone that Shawn isn't telling the truth, but at this point I don't think you'll change anyone's mind.

I believe that you believe everything you're saying, and I believe that Shawn believes everything he is saying, therefore he is telling the truth and you need to stop accusing him of lying. Honestly, the longer you drag this on the worse you're making yourself look.
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Donald Dunphy
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Here's another great card act that I enjoyed watching:

Matthias Rauch: http://vimeo.com/5189077

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
MickeyPainless
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Quote:
On 2009-08-08 13:42, Gordyboy wrote:
Honestly, the longer you drag this on the worse you're making yourself look.


I agree Gordy! In my readings the ones that look foolish (IMO) are Russ and his posse!

I will offer my professional and expert opinion as an equine specialist, this horse HAS truly been beaten and I pronounce it officially dead! Smile

MMc
magicnewswire
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I spoke with Tim Ellis by phone last night for more than an hour. We specifically discussed this issue, and he didn't mention the possibility of a FISM Judge conference on the matter.
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Andi Peters
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When Rick Merrill won FISM he gave Rune Clan full credit for being an inspiration to him and his act. Everyone thought this was fine. I don't know why Shawn has such a problem acknowledging Russ in the same way. If he'd done that at the outset none of this would be the problem it is now imho.
Gilgamesh_The_Librarian
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That's the trouble with the internet isn't it...you can't get in the same room with folks and bang a number of heads together very very forcefully.

As a couple have alluded to already this is just ridiculous. I'm sorry but in the great scheme of things this whole argument is meaningless unless somebody can show that they have been materially affected by anothers wrong doing.

Where I think people are feeling pain on both sides is in "addicted to the drama" magicians whispering "he stole this" or " he stole that". But then a lot of folk seem to love that kind of drama, it makes them feel good about themselves.

As magicians, we are indeed in general a sad bunch of small-minded losers.
lebowski
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If we had a dollar for every performer who used music first heard by another performer in their show we could solve the national deficit. Countless illusionists have been inspired to copy music used by DC. Not the worst form of imitation, but generally imitation nonetheless.
Doug Peters
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Um Andi? It just might be because Russ wasn't the inspiration for Shawn's act? Note that Shawn does publicly acknowledge that Russ was using the music before he was. But Shawn says that he discovered that fact after he had developed his own routine. Just sayin'.
"if you have any answers, it's time to ask harder questions!"
Andi Peters
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Quote:
On 2009-08-08 18:42, Gilgamesh_The_Librarian wrote:
As magicians, we are indeed in general a sad bunch of small-minded losers.

Quote of 2009!

That's what all my non-magic friends think of me too!!!
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