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Jaxon
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In case you are wondering. yes, this post is partly based on personal experience. Rather then getting mad about it though I decided to share this story and hopefully the ethics will be passed on to those who are new to magic and no one has taught these ethics to them yet. Instead of just saying, "It's wrong to do". I'm gonna tell you a little story and hopefully you'll come to your own conclussion that it's wrong to do.

Believe me I understand the overwelming desire to learn new tricks and move. I also understand the issues of not being abvle to afford all the tricks you desire. I hope that after you read this you'll understand the "wrong" way to go about it.


Imagine you came up with a really neat magic trick or routine. You performed it for quite some time. Over time it evolved into an even better trick. you get great reactions from it and it becomes a trade mark effect in your shows.

Then you decide that other magicians might like this trick too so you put it on the market. You realize that in todays market world the Internet is probably the best way to get it out there. And let's be honest, you hope to put a little money in your pocket for it too. You don't want to rip anyone off but you decide what is a fair price and that's how much you sell it for.

Let's say you decided to make it a PDF instructional manuscript. You figure that's a good fast way for people to pick it up. No waiting for them and that's always a good thing.

So you're trick is on the market now. You place ads on various magic sites to let them know it's available. This costs money in most sites that offer the ability to place banners on there site (Including this one).

Maybe you even place some ads in magic magazines. This costs more money. You spend time making a web site for it. This too costs money.

Ok, you're trick is out there now. magicians are buying it and it's getting a great response. They like it as much as you do and all the work and money you put into advertising it and making the manuscript look good and contain good instructions.

Please, really imagine this is happening to you.

Now imagine you found out that a number of people who picked your trick up from you are trading it for other tricks they want. This means they are taking sales away from you. Some one who didn't spend all that time perfecting the trick. Who didn't spend all the money advertising it and making it is making money from all your work. And they didn't even put any work into it. They just took it and passed it on to someone who wanted it too. Someone who could have bought it from you rather then them.

So for those of you who are always PMing, emailing or calling other magicians wanting to trade these manuscripts and videos. I hope this helps you understand how ethically wrong this is to do.

I know, you might be thinking, "But I really wanted that trick but I couldn't afford it". Well make some money or wait until you can afford it. While you're saving, spend your time mastering the tricks you already know.


Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Kent Wong
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As always Ron, a very well written article. I agree with you wholeheartedly. As far as the excuse "But I really wanted that trick but I couldn't afford it", I have only one additional comment.

If you walked into a store, saw something you really wanted, but couldn't afford it, what would you do? Would you just take it? No, that would be stealing. Yet, everytime a magician distributes or trades a secret, he's doing exactly the same thing. Stealing.

This is because a person cannot give what he doesn't own. When a person buys a trick, he does not "own" the full rights to the secret. He simply gets the performance rights to the trick. The distribution rights belong to the creator. Everytime a magician trades a secret, he is stealing the distribution right.

Now, many people also argue that "It's not patented so it's not against the law". That may be true. But it's also beside the point.

Don't confuse ethics with legality. Sometimes the laws have not caught up with the changing times. But even then, right is right - and wrong is wrong.

Ethics goes beyond legality. Ethics reach deep into a person's soul and reflect back at him when he looks in the mirror. It makes us who and what we are when no one else is looking. Unfortunately, I cannot teach a person how to be ethical. You either are or you are not.
"Believing is Seeing"
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acmp
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Just a thought,

how does this translate to the 'two guys meet ina a bar and do tricks for eachother' sinario? (no not that kind of trick, magic ones)

Would you still consider it wrong to show other magicians how to do a trick, or would you say, 'you really liked that one eh, then got o http://www.whatever.thing and buy it'?
acmp<><

"Well if I had one wish in this god forsaken world, kids
It'd be that your mistakes would be your own"
bigchuck
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While I agree with this to some extent -- I also feel that if I have bought an effect and after learning it or viewing it I KNOW I am not going to perform it, then if I choose to sell it to perhaps invest in a different effect or props or whatver -- I am within my rights to do that... not just legally but ethically as well -- how many times have there been products that don't meet the ad criteria or just don't fit what you are looking for ?

It should just be kept in a drawer gathering dust ?

Another situation is that some videos I have bought were just to see a specific performer's performance *not* necessarily to use any of their effects. If I watch it and its not my cup of tea -- should I not sell it ?

I am neither immoral nor unethical, in fact I have given this some serious thought & I try to do the right thing when it comes to this -- but what we are describing here is a very fine line.

In response to acmp -- yes I would tell them where they could purchase the effect - & that is if I know they are truly interested in magic in general -- usually the answer is 'I really have no idea how it happens -- it just does'
"The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact
mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows. - Frank Zappa"
rtgreen
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Another thought, how does this translate into selling a used book, video, or trick through our For Sale board or Ebay or even at a SAM swapmeet? Let's face it, when a person sells a used item, they are almost certain to spend that money on another magic item. Is there any difference between trading one item for another and trading an item for money then trading that money for another item?

Though I agree that trading copies of manuscripts and duplicated tapes is wrong, I'm not sure I agree that one magician trading legitimate items with another magician is.

Thanks,
Richard
Jaxon
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I should have mentioned in the post that this mainly refers to digital goods such as downloadable instructional videos, eBooks and PDF files.

If I have a prop that I either didn't care for or no longer need it in my show. Then I found out someone might have better use for it. Sure, I might work out some kind of deal or sell it to that person.

Used books might work the same way but I'd personally just keep them for my collection. Even if I only got one or two things that I use from that book.

I know there are a lot of issues to this topic and many fine lines there.

Things I don't feel are right to resell or trade are digital instructions, Lecture notes and I can't help but feel books. That may be just my opinion though.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
rtgreen
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I totally agree about the digital files. To me there is no difference between distributing a copy of a digital file and distributing a photocopy of a book or a dupped copy of a tape. This is always wrong unless the info is in public domain.

I don't have any ethical problem selling or trading a book, but I do have to admit, selling the books in my library is almost like pulling teeth. I hate to give them up, but sometimes the lure of a new book (or more often a really old book)takes over and I have to let something go. Smile

Richard
Kent Wong
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When I purchase a product, I know I'm stuck with it. Those are the rules of the game going in. I don't change the rules midstream, just because I don't like the result. If I did so, I would have to rationalize it to myself as to why it is right to do so. When you do the right thing, rationalization is not necessary.

So, when I buy a product (electronic or otherwise), I'm stuck with it. If it doesn't deliver what it promised, I'm still stuck with it. I will learn from the lesson and perhaps be more hesitant to buy from that inventor/supplier again. But that's about it.

Also, if a fellow magician likes an effect I performed, I will direct him where to buy it at the best price possible. If he's a serious magician no explanation should be necessary for why I don't reveal a secret to him.

If he seriously likes the effect, he will go out an buy it. From there, I will bend over backwards to give him any help he may need to perfect the handling and presentation of it.

I'm not trying to preach to anyone here and I'm sorry if it comes out that way. Just that, in my experience, there's a real danger in going down the slippery slope of ethical behaviour.
"Believing is Seeing"
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acmp
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OK, I agree that swapping copies is wrong. It doesn't matter if they are PDF's or photo copies. Selling books second hand is OK by me, but not usually by the publisher.

I liked 'magicman845' comment:
Don't confuse ethics with legality. Sometimes the laws have not caught up with the changing times. But even then, right is right - and wrong is wrong.

Dang form sumintted berofr I'd finished!

So, good comment magicman845,

I'm new at this magic stuff so I do need a lot of help, I guess that if I watched a card trick I'd not do as well at seeing how it's done as a more experianced magician. But let say I have a good idea, and the performer is a friend.

So I say nice trick, did you do a SAC move there?

They say yes, did you spot it?

I say, no you performed it well.

they say Thanks.

So now I know what they did.

Do you guys really not tell other magicians about your effects/tricks/gimmicks without parting with cash? I always thought that magicians would get together and share their skills/secrets, as a closed group.

I welcome comments, everyday _is_ a school day
acmp<><

"Well if I had one wish in this god forsaken world, kids
It'd be that your mistakes would be your own"
MagiUlysses
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Greetings and Salutations,

The best analogy I've heard of in this situation is to liken it to a car. When you own the car you can drive it as you see fit, keep it covered in the garage, or only operate it on sunny, warm days. It's yours to do with as you please. However, once you sell it, you can't go drive it again because it belongs to someone else.

Purchasing a book, video/DVD, trick, etc., gives you the performance rights to those items contained therein, usually without exception. The purchase does not give you the right to then turn around, sell it -- or in this instance give it away -- and continue to use it. This ethic, for lack of a better word, usually results in a well-stocked library, drawers full of junk, and boxes or shelves of videos.

There is nothing unethical about selling any of the above, but once you sell it, ethically, like a car, you shouldn't expect to use it without buying it back.

Just my $.02 (USD).

Joe in KC
Jaxon
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Just a reply to acmp's comment.

Magicians share and help eavh other all the time. Especially when we hang out together at magic conventions. When you see another magician do someting you'd lik eto learn the best thing to do is let them know you liked it and flat out ask something like, "Is that available anywhere?".
They'll usually tell you if it is, who's it is and where you can get it. If it's there original creation they'll probably tell you so. but if they didn't say you can do it or buy it from them then you shouldn't do it. There's nothing wrong with asking them if there is any way you can do it too. But ask first. They might sell you the rights or the props or on a good day they might even say. "Here's how it's done. have fun with it". But that is totally up to them and that sould be respected.

Great points here everyone!

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
metwin1
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How old must a trick/book be before it becomes "public domain"? Is it ethical then, to trade or circulate such books/tricks?
Frank Tougas
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As a psychologist by profession I always cringe at sentences that contain all encompassing words such as never or ever. They're what we refer to in the trade as cognitive distortions (false beliefs).

It usually leads to differing opinions some strongly worded and lots of exceptions to the "rule" and almost always clarification from the person who used them to begin with.

Face it magic manufacturing is a ma and pa cottage type of "industry". Often what you are buying was made in someones kitchen or wreckroom usually out of love for the art rather than any real expectation of fame and fortune.

Downloadable items are at even greater risk since people (often devious) are far more knowledgeable than me about how to steal from the internet. Ask my friend Al Schneider who is in the process of revamping his website because of large amounts of pirating going on. (A kid from Canada was so guilty about taking his stuff for free he ended up sending Al an apology and a check).

I still disagree with the whole intellectual property thing. I am not buying the performance rights. Once someone deems it okay to put their work into print the buyer owns it.

The auto analogy does not hold up because once you have bought a car you can sell it and who ever you sold it to can sell it and so on and so on. (I'd add another so on but face it we are talking about cars here).

I realize it would be nice if such things do not happen but to demand they don't is not a real world type of think. We live in a world where SkiDoo and Artic Cat have to get along, Skippy and Peter Pan, Nesquick and Hersheys and on and on.

To really sell performance rights you select one buyer, teach them and only them the effect, have a danged good contract and then cross your fingers because five magicians in the audience will be doing the thing in a week.

Put something on the internet or sell it in a magic store and the truth is you no longer have control of your effect. So let me amend the title to think about who you hurt or what you may be doing when you copy, sell and trade the work of others. My hope is that all will do the right thing, but my expectation is not everyone will. The sun will still come up in the morning and in the end the world of magic will survive.

P.S. Sorry to be such a pain in the butt Ron.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
what
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We, in our society are used to paying for physical things, and getting our information for free. All this free information gives us ample incentive to rationalize intellectual property theft. We ask ourselves questions like the following:

Is it OK to download music/movies from the internet for free? After all I could listen to the same music and movies on the radio/TV for free.
Is it OK to read something from a science book, sell the science book, and then use my new-found knowledge in my new invention?
Is it OK to “borrow” computer software from my neighbor? After all, that company can produce that software for 10 cents a disk.
Given the incentive to justify intellectual property theft, it is easy to gratify our natural desire to have more, more, more.

Another unrelated thought came to me while I was writing the above thought, so this will turn into a long post.

Companies/individuals who would like us to respect their intellectual property rights often use media outlets like internet, TV, radio to promote and advertise their products. Then after having taken advantage of the media outlet, ask the purchasers of their information to have restraint with the same information, and the same media outlets. Consumers might get the idea that the producer is willing to reap the benefits of the new technology, but not accept its costs.

In case you were wondering, I firmly believe magic should not be coppied to someone else without the producers consent. This ethic applies to magic, computer software, music, movies, manuscripts, and more.

Mike
Magic is fun!!!
thumbslinger
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Take the time to learn more about the portable document format (pdf) and other means of creating e-books.

The security has been there for a couple of years, unfortunately, nobody ever really gets deep enough to understand how to serialize a product to a machine or limit it's opening.

Some might say, "If I buy a book, it's crazy to think I could only open it a few times." Well, you can only drive your car if you keep putting gas into the tank.

But, on another note, the digital world is not the real world. New rules, regulations, customs, and generally 'way of life' matters have to be faced.

So, yes, it's ok to sell a pdf or ebook with limited user abilities if you simply state so in the ad copy as well as including that along with the product. You can still allow printing so that one may print it out before passing that certain mark or....shudder...tell people to take notes (if the routine/effect is that sort of thing.)

Either way, it's a tough thing, but the net is now becoming too 'normal' in many aspects and
Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Tommy Emmanuel are all you need to study to learn to play guitar.
Jaxon
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I've been thinking about what Frank Tougas said about the term "Never, ever". I know you didn't actually say it in this way but it basically boils down to the fact that those words used in that way is often, if not always an exaggeration. I know I titled this discussion because of a personal reason at first but as I typed it I tried to put myself on the state of mind that some of those who feel trading digital information of ok. So I do agree with that comment and I'm so glad someone with your knowledge participated in this discussion and shared your knowledge. Thanks so much for that.

However I do wish to express how deeply I feel about this topic. So let me rephrase:

Never, ever trade or resell instructional digital manuscripts or Videos!!!

Smile


Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Frank Tougas
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And I respect your point of view Ron, I sincerely do. You may be pleased to know that in all my years at magic I have "never ever" traded a book, instruction sheet, or video. I wouldn't want to because I believe once I've purchased it it becomes my property and I feel information is a valuable comodity.

This can be evidenced by tons of books from undergrad and grad schools that still sit on my shelves and annoy my wife. Smile

So in a way our disagreement results in like behaviors. I support inventors, creators and innovators such as yourself and will continue to do so. Your fundamental passion about magic is noted and appreciated.

Frank Tougas
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Felix Cardician
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I only read the first post by Ron and I only comment on it. Im too lazy to read the replies on this thread lol

First of all, I totally agree with you. I have been trying to tell this same thing to many many "magicians". Yet there are many who are trading but they have no respect for the inventor or ethics in magic.

However, one thing I don't like is downloadable formats. This includes instructional videos, PDFs, ebooks etc. Before publishing a trick in this format, did you think about todays internet? P2P programs in every computer, people sharing files.

I have said this before and I say it again, if this keeps going, magic no more is a secret after 5 years.
Instant downloads have spread all over internet and P2P users by that, and anyone can download magic for free. Just think what has happened to music or film industry!

This is the main reason I hate downloadable magic. Please, if any inventors are reading this, publish your next creation in book or DVD format.
acmp
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I wonder if any 'never ever trade' people have ever brought a book (story type) secondhand? or maybe passed their old books to the local church/charity store to sell?

With this in mind, what marks the difference between what is OK to pass on and what is not? Is it a skills transfer that is the 'thing'? If so does this mean that authors cannot trade any type of book?

No, I'm not condoning the sharing of any thing via P2P or such, I just like to throw spanners into the gears.

I do like the 'if you sell your car' comment, a nice way of putting it. I also like the Jaxon's comment re talk to the performer and get info from them. I hope that most magicians are willing to help other, truely intersted, magicians. Then again I'm an optomist.

If I ever get a brilliant idea for a trick/gimmick I'll make sure to handle it responsibily ;-)
acmp<><

"Well if I had one wish in this god forsaken world, kids
It'd be that your mistakes would be your own"
metwin1
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As Mike has pointed out, we are used to a society where physical items must be paid for, but information is free.

At the end of the day, the only thing we can do is to educate the ignorant about the ethics of trading information, and hope that people make the right choice.
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