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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » Why you can't buy software and what we can learn from it. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Rocketeer
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The recent thread about someone disclosing one of Derren Brown's methods got me to thinking.

Do you guys know that you can't buy software? Microsoft, for instance, has NEVER, to my knowledge, sold one single piece of software. Software companies never sell software; they license it, with all sorts of covenants that restrict what you can and cannot do with it.

Although you can reserve performance rights of a copyrighted work, a book would be nothing but exposure if one did reserve them. However, in the absence of a signed agreement, merely disclosing some of the content of a copyrighted work is "fair use" under U.S. copyright laws. I could spoil the endings of Psycho, 28 Days Later, Sixth Sense, Fantastic 4 issue #587 and any number of other works and the copyright owners would be powerless to extract damages from me.

The magic/mentalism fraternity has long operated on a kind of gentleman's agreement. You don't gratuitously expose the workings of of other people's effects, even if you have purchased the effect or a book or a DVD that exposes it for the purpose of allowing you to perform the effect.

It is my sad duty to inform you that gentlemen are dying off by the second and they are not being replaced.

I think the time has come to completely and permanently stop selling effects, books, ebooks and DVDs. Selling magic/mentalism is the last great sucker bet. Instead, all such work should be licensed. All such works should be clearly marked on the cover or back cover or packaging that they are "never sold". The license agreement should be clearly visible on the outside of the sealed packaging and with a reference to a web page where the identical license agreement can be read. (And the license will be stronger and more likely enforceable if you do not reserve the right to change the agreement at any time. Write it once for a particular work and keep the it the same forever.)

Perhaps some of you will think me Quixotic or naive. Court opinions on shrinkwrap licenses have been mixed. And thieves, by definition, don't respect the law. But really, the age of selling effects, books and licenses is over. It's time to move on to a more contemporary model.
I'm selling my hardcover autographed limited edition copy of Jerome Finley's "Thought Veil"

PM me for info.
Tom Jorgenson
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I agree. Well said. I have an illusion I've developed. I do not sell it, I license the rights to built it and perform it. I own the unit you build, and reserve the right to stomp onstage and destroy it if certain constrictions are violated...and I will! It's in the contract what to expect, so it's no surprise.

It was the only way I could control certain aspects of it's performance.

You are correct, licensing is the way to go....

But I am afraid, for the regular person, how are they to extract punishment for violating the agreement? I know what I can do, and it costs nothing....but what can someone else do without thousands in Lawyers' fees?
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
Stephen Young
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An interesting take on the problem.
At first reading I quite like the idea.

Would such a licence need to be written in legal jargon that's completely un-understandable (made-up word) to most people.
Or could it be in plain English.

I'm just working on what may well be my first release so this is of great interest.

regards
steve
Shrubsole
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And for every full licenced copy of Windows Microsoft sell there are about 100,000 copies unlicensed and fully operating. So I can't see licencing will do anything.

Whilst the original inventor of a trick may not tell it to anyone not licenced, it only takes just one person given the info to decide to give it away or sell a copy and away to the internet it goes.

Even if the originator of the trick never sells it or tells anyone at all about it, given time people will come up with the (a) solution and post that instead.

It's just like the security of anything else. Our public figures don't live their lives walled up for ever, so as soon as they appear in public they are open to attack. That's when someone who isn't a gentleman takes advantage.

Ours is something that happens in public and is and always will be then open to public abuse.
Winner of the Dumbringer Award for total incompetence. (All years)
Tom Jorgenson
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Unfortunately, very true.

The ethical don't need constrictions, the unethical ignore them.
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
Mr. Mindbender
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True, licensing doesn't stop theft, bu if you license an effect and someone steals it, would you not at least be able to take legal action?
Shrubsole
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Quote:
On 2011-01-30 15:27, Mr. Mindbender wrote:
True, licensing doesn't stop theft, bu if you license an effect and someone steals it, would you not at least be able to take legal action?


Well under UK law; if I can prove that I thought of it first (By publication or any other means) then I automatically own the copyright for the intellectual property on it.

And then it all goes down hill from there! It's not a criminal offence here but a civil one. That means that I can't get the police to arrest you or anything, all I can do is take you to court and sue you for the damages (costs that have been incurred by you ripping me off)

I would somehow have to find all the court costs and legal representation (so 10000000000000s!) I also then have to prove my case. I have to come up with the hard evidence. Meanwhile, you have to do nothing!

And how much have you doing my trick actually cost me? A massive grey area. Sure if you have sold it then I can get all the sales back (that's if you kept books and made a record of each sale and I have to get that evidence.)

So all very fine in principle but unless the person ripped off is David Copperfield or Derren Brown (or similar) then it's next to impossible to even think about doing.

Also unless someone is a famous magician/mentalist or someone known on the circuit, how is the owner of the trick even going to know that someone else is performing their trick or even who they are? For every known magician/mentalist there are 1000s of unknowns out there performing both with and without the owners permission.

('You' in the above post does not mean the poster quoted)
Winner of the Dumbringer Award for total incompetence. (All years)
Davit Sicseek
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There are several problems with this idea, not to mention the fact that people are getting mixed up with what copyright actually is. (Additioanlly, copyright infringement is a criminal offence in the UK when it it done with intent and ina commercial context.)

As you hinted, software licenses (and even more so digital music licenses) are problematic. They frequently contain terms that the courts have deemed to be unenforcable. Simply printing in big bold letters that the item isn't being sold but licensed doesn't in itself make it the case. A good example of licenses being unenforcable is the 'not for rental' messages that are printed on many DVDs... completley unenforcable. Certainly this approach may dissuade some people from doing things that the creator might not like - but again, since this is little more than a gentlemans agreement, it will have no effect on the problem group.
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Rocketeer
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All of the criticisms of my idea are quite accurate and it's why I said you can call my idea Quixotic or naive.

However.

Perhaps my idea idea would work if the very best material were sold through networks of known friends. Lord of the Horses knows a lot of trustworthy people. They in turn could recommend others they trust and so on. Sales would be by invitation only to people whose real and stage names and street address are known to the seller and who have (somehow) proved their trustworthiness.

Perhaps this is just more tilting at windmills If so, so be it. Pancho has fed and watered my mule and he and I off to right some more unrightable wrongs.

I'm not sure about the "to love chaste chaste and pure from afar" bit but I do my best.

Rocky
I'm selling my hardcover autographed limited edition copy of Jerome Finley's "Thought Veil"

PM me for info.
mastermindreader
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Rocky-

What you have suggested is something that has actually been going on for quite a while now. Also, many creators, myself included, have been hiring out as consultants for established performers and cutting drastically back on publicly releasing material.

Good thoughts,

Bob
David Thiel
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I am thinking that there is no way to protect anything. We need to be REAL in our discussions here. Either you are an idea thief or you're not. Thieves are not going to stop just because they saw a licence. The people who would never rip off an idea don't need a licence agreement. They just would never do it.

(In case you're wondering, I am one of the "would never" knowingly rip off types.)

Ideas for ethical conduct are doomed to fail until they are in some way enforceable.

In our industry, ANYONE can call themselves a magician or a mentalist. And many have done incaluable damage...but why should they care? They have nothing invested...they are not at risk.

Talk a look at eBay. I am relatively new to it, so when I saw Bill Abbot's Smart Ass routine for $25, I bought it. I had no idea it was a rip off. Honestly. When it got here I was totally floored. They were using Bill's promo video, his trademarked logo -- even the sales material from his site. I had no idea. None.

I contacted Bill directly and told him about it. He said he has tried to complain to eBay many times with no success. I contacted the merchant and was told he wasn't prepared to do anything to compensate Bill...and would refund my money -- but that was it.

The trick went into the garbage...(And I bought an authentic prop from a real dealer) -- but you have to live in the real world, guys. Rip off of illusions is rampant in magic -- and, as mentalism grows, it's coming here too. If it's public, it's going to be ripped off. Period.

It sucks -- but there it is.

Don't get me wrong. I would get behind ANY reasonable effort to ban piracy. It hurts EVERYONE.

David
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mastermindreader
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This is why many "name" performers no longer post on public forums. (Although they do participate regularly on closed boards and in private organizations.)
Pakar Ilusi
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I say don't sell. Period.

If you sell it will be pirated somehow or other...

Only share with trusted colleagues and friends, like the old old days...

Imho.

Smile
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
Jonathan Townsend
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IMHO it's never about how a trick is done or having someone's trick but rather all about what a trick will do for your audiences.

Have you noticed how little "new" stuff is getting to market?
There's some very well made stuff and lots of old stuff recombined in cute ways - but new stuff... not so much.

The only people it ultimately hurts are the publishers/distributors.

The creative types will continue to share stuff quietly on the side and drop a few items into the journals when it's useful.

So you can wallow in whining, go learn to read (some old books) and get to work on your own stuff, or maybe show yourself to be trustworthy and over time gain some access to material that's not around, in print or even on the radar of those who go and have names in the market.

Your choice. Always your choice. IMHO you are well advised to spend a few dollars on older books and developing things that will serve your audiences. Then after you find out what your needs are - contacting the makers (machinists and craftsmen) to make the things that will serve you as you progress. That's just my opinion. Your actions and dollars are what make the market and environment what it is.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
acesover
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It is a shame. Look at what Magic and Mentalism DVDs sell for when they first come out. For about 6 months people are purchasing them for $45 to lets say $65. OK a few people decide it was not for them and in the next two or so months they were selling for around $30 to $40 used.

Now a year later you cannot get $15 for the same DVD. You cannot tell me that everyone who wanted one now owns an original and those who purchased an original and did not like it and sold it have driven the market down that far. No, I believe that there are more copies out there than originals. End of story.
If I were to agree with you. Then we would both be wrong. As of Apr 5, 2015 10:26 pm I have 880 posts. Used to have over 1,000
Pakar Ilusi
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Quote:
On 2011-02-09 21:26, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
IMHO it's never about how a trick is done or having someone's trick but rather all about what a trick will do for your audiences.

Have you noticed how little "new" stuff is getting to market?
There's some very well made stuff and lots of old stuff recombined in cute ways - but new stuff... not so much.

The only people it ultimately hurts are the publishers/distributors.

The creative types will continue to share stuff quietly on the side and drop a few items into the journals when it's useful.

So you can wallow in whining, go learn to read (some old books) and get to work on your own stuff, or maybe show yourself to be trustworthy and over time gain some access to material that's not around, in print or even on the radar of those who go and have names in the market.

Your choice. Always your choice. IMHO you are well advised to spend a few dollars on older books and developing things that will serve your audiences. Then after you find out what your needs are - contacting the makers (machinists and craftsmen) to make the things that will serve you as you progress. That's just my opinion. Your actions and dollars are what make the market and environment what it is.


Read this again, it is the only pragmatic way to combat exposure.

Really.

Smile
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
acesover
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Quote:
On 2011-02-10 21:42, Pakar Ilusi wrote:
Quote:
On 2011-02-09 21:26, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
IMHO it's never about how a trick is done or having someone's trick but rather all about what a trick will do for your audiences.

Have you noticed how little "new" stuff is getting to market?
There's some very well made stuff and lots of old stuff recombined in cute ways - but new stuff... not so much.

The only people it ultimately hurts are the publishers/distributors.

The creative types will continue to share stuff quietly on the side and drop a few items into the journals when it's useful.

So you can wallow in whining, go learn to read (some old books) and get to work on your own stuff, or maybe show yourself to be trustworthy and over time gain some access to material that's not around, in print or even on the radar of those who go and have names in the market.

Your choice. Always your choice. IMHO you are well advised to spend a few dollars on older books and developing things that will serve your audiences. Then after you find out what your needs are - contacting the makers (machinists and craftsmen) to make the things that will serve you as you progress. That's just my opinion. Your actions and dollars are what make the market and environment what it is.


Read this again, it is the only pragmatic way to combat exposure.

Really.

Smile



I really do not know what point you are making. Smile
If I were to agree with you. Then we would both be wrong. As of Apr 5, 2015 10:26 pm I have 880 posts. Used to have over 1,000
Pakar Ilusi
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Just saying that what Jonathan Townsend wrote there is the most practical way to avoid exposure of your Magic technique.

Smile
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
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