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Topic: Is it legal, moral, ethical?
Message: Posted by: Greaturtle (Dec 4, 2007 11:11PM)
I'm brand new to magic. One of my interests is puppets. My question is, is it legal, moral, ethical to use the same routine someone else has already done? What I mean is, can I write down the script someone else has used that I saw on a video, memorize it and use it. Or is that a no-no? I am not very good at writing my own yet and have only found a few on-line to buy. But I did see a very funny routine and was wondering if it's ok to copy what one sees?
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Dec 4, 2007 11:18PM)
Unless you have permission of the originator it is not moral , ethical, and in many cases legal to use someone else's routines. Basically, it involves something called performance rights. If you buy a routine, buy teaching DVD with the routine on it, or buy a book with the routine written in it, then using someone else's routine is stealing their "unique creative artistic property". If you mean by puppets the art of ventriloquism, there are routines available, you should look into the ventriloquism forum called "I'm a Real Boy" here on the Café you will find it under the Carnival of Fun heading. There you can contact people who can give you lots of pointers where to find scripts. If you do a search on that forum for scripts you likely to find there probably has been threads covering that before and can find many good leads there. Welcome to the Café.
Message: Posted by: MagiClyde (Dec 5, 2007 12:40AM)
I don't see a problem with using someone else's script for PRACTICE PURPOSES ONLY. They can help with developing a sense of timing and humor with your little friends. I can even see the possibility of using it for practice in front of family and friends just to get over stage fright and to improve your performance and ventriloquism with something you already know has worked for someone else in the past.

What you should NOT be doing is using the script to make money or for performing in front of strangers with the intention of hogging the spotlight.

Ultimately, Photius is right. You really should get scripts that have already been released with the intention of allowing you to perform them in front of others and eventually modify them in such a way as to make them your own.

In the end, writing your own scripts is really the best practice that you can get. Not only are you not plagerizing someone else's hard work, but developing routines that really work FOR YOU! And that's really what it's all about.

I, too, wish to welcome you to the Café. You can make a lot of really great friends here and learn a lot.
Message: Posted by: Greaturtle (Dec 5, 2007 07:25AM)
Both of your replies make sense to me, and by the way thank you for the info on where to look for scripts. I'll definitely check that out. Thank you for taking the time to reply!
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Dec 5, 2007 01:49PM)
Another possible avenue for scripting is to find a local vent/puppeteer that does material you know is original and see what they might charge to write some for you.

You can also check sources in writers magazines, etc. or online perhaps looking for writers that will do material. I tend to write my own material and thus forget that a LOT of folks out there write for a living. You might want to look into it. All best,
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Dec 5, 2007 05:07PM)
We all stand on the shoulders of giants. In the beginning, you might copy and mimmick too much, but with time, you will develop your own style. Also, as in the beginning you will likely only perform for friends, colleagues and other aquaintances in a more informal way. So, do not worry too much about it. But keep in mind that only your own style will make the difference.

Message: Posted by: Greaturtle (Dec 5, 2007 08:33PM)
Thank you all for the great encouragement!
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Dec 5, 2007 10:58PM)
You are very welcome
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Dec 6, 2007 12:50AM)
You may also want to consider writing to the person who's routine you like and ask if they mind if you used their script as a starting point in developing your own patter.

You may find that he or she will give you permission and encouragement.

Message: Posted by: Greaturtle (Dec 6, 2007 06:31AM)
That's a great idea! Thank you!
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Dec 6, 2007 01:27PM)
This is a much more important thread than many will realize. Over the years almost without exception the single most ubiquitous question that I have gotten from clients, students, etc. was: "How do I write my own patter?" The answer for magic is found in any number of essays I have written over the years, but when talking about writing for vent or puppet work you are almost ALWAYS and without exception talking about writing comedy. I can't think of a single vent or puppeteer for that matter that didn't use comedy as the basic matrix for their presentation.

It's one thing to toss in a funny gag or ad lib into a magic presentation, especially if you tend to that as a skill you've acquired, but to WRITE or Script out a comedy routine is something else all together! Some folks are just simply born with it, others can and do acquire the skill, etc.

The only problem I see with Bob's suggestion above is this: If you use someone else's script as the template for making your own...just how would that work? If all you do is change a name here and there, then nothing really has changed and you are just USING the original. If they give you permission, well, I guess that fine, but you have nothing original. If on the other hand you use it to come up with something totally different and original then you don't need to have permission, because nothing you are using will be theirs to begin with.

If what you are attempting is to use the example of others to learn how to write your own humorous vent patter then you are in the same position as the latter part of the preceding paragraph.

In the end the only way to learn to write in ANY form is to start writing and see what happens. Start talking to your puppet figure, taping it all the while and see what comes up? BUY, BUY, BUY books ON the craft of writing humor and see what the pros have to say?? There's some good stuff out there and a trip to Amazon.com will repay said trip.

Or, as I suggested above, look for someone to professionally write out a script for you along the guidelines the you set. Although this may cost some money if you find the right person it may be worth every penny. Consider that many, many great comedians have hired writers to work on their act. All best,
Message: Posted by: donrodrigo (Jan 20, 2008 12:07PM)
Photius is right...and I add that it's just morally wrong to do so. To watch and get ideas, yes, ok. Get the book [i]Magic and Showmanship[/i] and study it well.
Message: Posted by: Greaturtle (Jan 20, 2008 02:10PM)
Thank you. I just ordered it from Amazon on your recommendation.
Message: Posted by: Magic Enhancer (Jan 20, 2008 06:08PM)

Find your character and make a script yourself. You can use the same "formula", but copying is certainly not the way to go. You want to get so good that people would like to copy you. Be original, and create your own script. There is much more pride in doing it that way, and it will take you further. I promise!

Robert Haas