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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » For how long does a mentalist "own" their ideas? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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entity
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Jonathan:

Agreed on the timeliness of publication. In many ways it was an advantage in the days before computers and home-publishing in that one was forced to take the time in doing research and in corresponding with other authors, etc.

Question: You remark upon the seeking of permissions for including materials. If someone has published something already, and you're referencing that in your own words for historical reasons or to describe your own variations, is permission necessary?

In other forms of academia referencing another person's published ideas in your own words (with credit) is common and accepted.

- entity
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Some interesting thoughts, entity and Jonathan...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Jonathan Townsend
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Exactly Entity. For example: I don't need to include a discussion/tutorial of Elmsley's Ghost Count when describing my variation. Simply stating that I start with my right hand palm down with cards at the fingertips - take the first card with my palm up left hand and turn it over ... (proceeding to discuss the way cards are turned over and focus is kept on the cards going into the left hand) informs the student and does not diminish Elmsley's work.

So where are folks getting into problems with some ideas in the literature of mentalism?
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markmiller
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From this point forward valuable secrets should be kept secret and not be published in any way or the value of our craft will eventually diminish.
entity
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Well, I find that often new writers (or videographers) will simply credit the source from which they learned an effect or principle and not even attempt to do any "due diligence" beyond that. One common example is those who credit David Blaine's TWO CARD MONTE for inspiration when the actual effect is the invention of Eddie Fechter.

Another all-too-common occurrence is writers simply parroting the credits that they see in earlier books, without taking the trouble to try to follow the trail to the real source. In a book I've written on the nail writer (soon to be published by H&R Books (shameless plug), my research continually turned up references that were incorrect as to the earliest appearance of the nail writer in the literature.

It turns out that one of the first popular booklets on the nailwriter was poorly researched from a historical point of view, and every other book or publication that followed simply copied the misinformation and repeated it in their works. Through time-consuming research I tracked down the truth, a fascinating story which made for an interesting section in my NailWriter Anthology.

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entity
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Quote:
On 2010-07-07 12:53, markmiller wrote:
From this point forward valuable secrets should be kept secret and not be published in any way or the value of our craft will eventually diminish.


What do you mean, "our" craft? Who says who gets in? Is it all right if they decide that you don't 'qualify'?

I agree about the keeping of secrets, to a certain degree. The best secrets are still kept fairly exclusive, from my experience.

- entity
markmiller
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I'm saying if you have a valuable secret - by "our" I mean any magician who values their performances or wants to keep their effects somewhat exclusive so everyone doesn't do the same stuff, or so methods don't get into the hands of internet bunglers - keep your secrets to yourself. I am starting to believe their is little or no merit in publishing secrets. That's about as clear as I can state what I feel.
entity
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Mark:

I was attempting a small joke with the "our" business.

How did you learn the things that you know about magic/mentalism?

You seem to be saying that you would deny others the benefits that you've enjoyed in having access to the secrets of magic/mentalism. If so, how do you justify that?

- entity
gadfly3d
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Quote:
On 2010-07-07 12:53, markmiller wrote:
From this point forward valuable secrets should be kept secret and not be published in any way or the value of our craft will eventually diminish.


Or perhaps unless "our" valuable secrets are published within the community as creative commons "our craft will eventually diminish"

Gil Scott
markmiller
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Way back before the begining mentors handed down methods. I'm not saying abolish what is currently on youtube, books, dvds. I'm saying if you develop something special and want to keep it unique and special, don't publish it.
entity
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That's what people are doing now.

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markmiller
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Do you still think I need to justify my feelings? Don't you think there is enough out there without having to give access to every secret to every downloading seeker?
entity
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Mark:

I think that the issue isn't quite so black or white as you suggest.

- entity
markmiller
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You don't think there is plenty of info out there already?
Jonathan Townsend
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By out there do you mean in low priced retail items advertised on the web or perhaps just what's out there on the web for anyone to get from those sites which have stuff?
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entity
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Quote:
On 2010-07-09 00:55, markmiller wrote:
You don't think there is plenty of info out there already?


I think that there's too much info "out there" that is available to too many people. But we can't put the Genie back in the bottle. Too late for that.

In my opinion, the answer isn't to stop all information from being available to anyone else except those of us already involved in magic or mentalism. The ideal situation would be for people to have to earn the right to certain information.

Right now a lot of information is too easily accessible to ANYONE. Because it's easy to come by, the information isn't valued. Because it's not valued, it is shared indiscriminately. People collect "secrets" not to perform, but to trade with others, like bubble gum trading cards.

So there are a lot of people who have the secrets to a lot of material. That doesn't mean that they "know" how to perform it properly, or that they ever refine any of the material they have to a professional level. This results in a lot of bad performances of good material.

Some professionals (and a few creative and respectful amateurs) share SOME of what they know publicly, but keep much of their knowledge PRIVATE, sharing only with a few trusted associates. There ARE STILL real secrets in magic and mentalism that very few know. These secrets aren't in the ebooks or on the internet magic shop sites. They aren't in ANY books, anywhere. The vast majority of people, amateur and professional, aren't even aware that these secrets exist, because those who value them keep it that way.

There are fewer of them than there used to be, but they're still there.

So to me the question you're asking is, "How can we keep people from writing books or marketing effects to the general amateur market?"

Answer: We can't.

If you want secrets that aren't widely known you either have to work and earn entre to the confidence of those who protect the truly exclusive secrets; or create your own principles and effects and keep them "close to your vest".

The answer isn't to keep ALL information from EVERY person (except "us"). It's to value information more and keep SOME information from MOST people. In my opinion.

- entity
ddyment
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My own views ...

From a legal perspective, it's pretty straightforward: if it has been published, the knowledge is in the public domain. As long as copyright (which protects the form of the presentation, not its content) and patent (which protects the ability to manufacture for sale) laws are obeyed, others have the right to use the information as they choose.

Custom and common courtesy suggest that sources of ideas be credited. In the interest of brevity, even this is often omitted for ideas that are well known in the community. It's unnecessary, for example, for anyone proposing a card stack using an algorithmic progression to credit Horatio Galasso.

Magical ethics suggest that permission should be sought in certain cases: when the new idea primarily belongs to a single (other) person; when the new idea is essentially a different method for someone else's original presentation, or a different presentation for someone else's original method. But even this may be waived if the creator has made it clear that s/he no longer considers his/her method and/or presentation to be a "secret" (for example, by publishing it in a broad open-to-the-public forum), or when it is no longer possible to contact the creator to obtain permission.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Ddyment - ethics suggest that whatever is rewarded is "good" and what is punished is "bad".

second question - more to the law - "public domain" as far as ideas go equates to being in print?

Not so sure we're quite on the path of proper academic citation/crediting just yet. There's still a matter of whether a work is in print and whether it's okay to explain with credit or only to cite unless explicit permission is given.
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ddyment
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Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
Ddyment - ethics suggest that whatever is rewarded is "good" and what is punished is "bad".

My dictionaries' definitions of "ethics" don't say anything about reward or punishment, so I'm afraid that I don't understand this comment.

Quote:
... "public domain" as far as ideas go equates to being in print?

Depends on what is meant by "being in print", but in general, if an idea has been published (as opposed to kept as a "trade secret", which is a pretty specific process), then any ideas in it are free for anyone to use. Copyright restricts how the ideas can be expressed, and patents restrict how they may be used for commercial manufacturing purposes, but the information is public domain.

Quote:
... There's still a matter of whether a work is in print and whether it's okay to explain with credit or only to cite unless explicit permission is given.

My personal feeling is that whether or not a work is in print should have no effect on the matter; what I posted earlier lists the credit-vs-permission constraints as I view them.
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entity
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Quote:
On 2010-07-10 12:07, ddyment wrote:
Custom and common courtesy suggest that sources of ideas be credited. In the interest of brevity, even this is often omitted for ideas that are well known in the community. It's unnecessary, for example, for anyone proposing a card stack using an algorithmic progression to credit Horatio Galasso.


Hmmm. I might disagree, Doug. I do agree that sometimes you can't list every variation ever published or invented that has even a remote relationship to a concept or idea we're writing about, but I think that trying to cite earliest sources is a very useful exercise. It also avoids finger-pointing and accusations from more recent authors who claim ownership of a principle or idea, if you can show the earliest source in print.

- entity
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