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Topic: Saw my routine performed on TV
Message: Posted by: Samuel Catoe (Sep 19, 2017 10:29PM)
So, I created this routine almost 20 years ago. I've been performing it since then off and on. I say off and on because since about 2009 I've only performed it on maybe 4 occasions. As some may remember (but likely don't) my wife at the time had terminal cancer and eventually died from the disease in 2010. I pretty much left my old life behind in the aftermath. As a result of all this going on, I was unaware of many things in the magic world such as the deaths of performers and teachers and the advancement of some who were still beginners when I last saw them. The possible purloining of my routine is the biggest thing I missed that directly affects me though. It was even successfully marketed and sold to others. I am just now returning to the world of magic, but have continued to have an interest in watching performances when I get the opportunity. Penn & Teller's Fool Us is a wonderful chance for just that. I have no TV or cable service so I've been watching clips here and there on Youtube.

Well, recently I saw my own routine being performed on Fool Us. It did not fool P&T (I wonder how much of that might actually be because Teller was tipped to my method many years ago when I was talking to him about my routine at a convention in Vegas. I say I wonder because Teller specifically mentioned my method to Penn as his guess.), but it was still on the show. I'm not really sure how to feel about this. Part of me is impressed, but the rest of me is quite upset.

I'm partly impressed because the performer actually might have improved the routine a little by changing the methodology very slightly. The basic routine however is still the same (actually not quite as good as mine despite the improvement but that's because of something else, not what was changed) and so similar that if other people were to see them performed they would say it's the same routine. Granted, the method is slightly different, but it's not so different that the effect is changed. In fact the effect is the same. The change is cosmetic to the routine itself, and some could say it's not even a necessary one. It's the difference between using a DB to effect a color change vs sleight of hand. The effect to the audience is the same. It's not the method that bothers me, it's everything else. It's the fact that the entire routine was performed up there on the stage in front of a live audience and it was my routine. It was my trick. I was so proud of it I performed it at a large convention over a decade ago in an attendees' show and also because I wanted to lay claim to the routine in case I was actually able to market it. From what I was told, and from my own memory, the TV performer was in attendance at that convention and would have likely seen the attendees' show.

Prior to me performing this, I had come across similar routines, BUT none that used my methodology (not even close) and not a single one was performed with the props I used. And I did a LOT of research on this routine. MONTHS of it. I worked HARD on working that thing out, working out the kinks in the routine (and there were more worked out after the convention performance that I did NOT see in the Fool Us performance), working out the exact method, practicing the moves over and over, getting the props made (which were beautifully done), etc. Having never come across anyone else doing anything like this in all that I could find in print, I find it highly unlikely that two people would come up with the same routine, effect, AND props completely independently. It'd be like finding two performers who were using a Dove Pan before Dove Pans were ever marketed or even written about. My method is not one that was found in a magic book or magazine. It literally came to me at a friend's house with a sudden flash of genius while we were having a jam session. While it wasn't something earth shattering, and quite a few professionals picked it out very quickly, I have found no one that used my method for this type of routine, with the particular props I used. In fact, I found no one using my methodology at all in ANY writings or other items. And here's someone using exactly that with my own routine on a national television program.

Like I said, I really don't know how to feel. I'm sorry for being so vague. I really trying not to start a war, hence the reason I haven't named names, but this is quite upsetting. So I've posted this in the Ethics section. What would you do?

Btw, I remember when the effect was marketed, and I believe I did reach out to the creator, but to my recollection he did not respond well (if at all) and did not engage me in a discussion on the effect. Also, I had far more important things on my plate with my wife being ill than to try to have a discussion with someone about marketed effects and similarities (because that's all it was in my mind at that time was similarities). It was not until Fool Us that I had ever seen the routine performed by him. Again, what would you do?
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Sep 19, 2017 11:39PM)
What effect?
Message: Posted by: Samuel Catoe (Sep 20, 2017 12:20AM)
Sent you a PM.
Message: Posted by: Luke Jonas (Dec 28, 2017 11:00AM)
What was the routine? I would feel impressed as imitation they say is the greatest form of flattery, however if the scripting and routine are the same then he should have reached out to you first maybe.
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Dec 28, 2017 06:50PM)
[quote]On Dec 28, 2017, Luke Jonas wrote:
What was the routine? I would feel impressed as imitation they say is the greatest form of flattery, however if the scripting and routine are the same then he should have reached out to you first maybe. [/quote]

Nope, they guy marketed it a few years after Sam performed it at Mindvention. :(
Message: Posted by: rboyd (Jan 31, 2018 04:32PM)
As a beginner in magic I can only dream of one day inventing my own trick and routine. I would be missed if it were used without my consent, especially in such a big stage as P&T.

The sad thing is, I suspect of he had reached out to you and given you due credit, I suspect you would feel flattered and give it your blessing.

Well that's my guess anyway as I sadly don't share you creativity so can only partially relate.
Message: Posted by: debjit (Aug 22, 2018 05:30AM)
You should name the magician and your trick. If what you believe is true, then it won't be unethical or poor taste at all. Your claim could then be validated for certain. Otherwise no one will ever know if the other magician created it himself independently or not.
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Aug 22, 2018 09:35AM)
[quote]On Aug 22, 2018, debjit wrote:
You should name the magician and your trick. If what you believe is true, then it won't be unethical or poor taste at all. Your claim could then be validated for certain. Otherwise no one will ever know if the other magician created it himself independently or not. [/quote]
It is well documented, and those who know, do in fact know.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Aug 22, 2018 09:37AM)
[quote]On Aug 22, 2018, debjit wrote:
You should name the magician and your trick. If what you believe is true, then it won't be unethical or poor taste at all. Your claim could then be validated for certain. Otherwise no one will ever know if the other magician created it himself independently or not. [/quote]

Note this is exactly what he should not do. It is very likely to be a misunderstanding of some sort and a public flame war about it is just not good for anyone.
It is quite sad these things happen.
Message: Posted by: EZrhythm (Sep 21, 2018 05:58PM)
1. I would be flattered, honored and quite excited that someone used my idea or the same idea I had in such a performance.
2. I would attempt to contact the performer to congratulate him of his performance and have an enthusiastic discussion.
3. I might consider marketing the effect with "As seen performed by ________ on Penn and Teller's, Fool Us".
Message: Posted by: Senor Fabuloso (Sep 27, 2018 04:38AM)
Without knowing the effect it's hard to comment but it has been said that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” Oscar Wilde. So at least there is that.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Sep 30, 2018 09:21AM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2018, EZrhythm wrote:
1. I would be flattered, honored and quite excited that someone used my idea or the same idea I had in such a performance.
2. I would attempt to contact the performer to congratulate him of his performance and have an enthusiastic discussion.
3. I might consider marketing the effect with "As seen performed by ________ on Penn and Teller's, Fool Us". [/quote]

If someone stole my original work and performed it on TV, I wouldn't be flattered, I'd feel violated, disappointed and furious. I'm incredibly proud of the few original creations I've developed, and I hope they are associated with me. I wouldn't contact the performer to congratulate him. I'd contact him to have someone beat him into a coma. And the weird thing is that if you marketed it "as performed by ______," the rat could sue you for misappropriation of likeness. Bad deal all the way around.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Sep 30, 2018 02:54PM)
I would be flattered, excited and honored if someone connected me to do one of my pieces.

Finding out after the fact would bring about quite different feelings I'm afraid.

Often these things can be misunderstandings and independent development.
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Oct 1, 2018 12:46AM)
It's hard to claim independent developement after you have seen the original long before you "created" it over. And then marketed it to resounding success.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 1, 2018 12:19PM)
This may be true. But I will say that over the years I've seen these things devolve into pointless nastiness on a simple misunderstanding.

I have also unfortunately seem probably more examples of guys who just don't care who they steal things from.

But everyone should have a chance to have their side known. Certainly there are two sides to this story. It is possible to have another side and everything you said be true.

It is unfortunate he does not respond.
Message: Posted by: 0pus (Oct 2, 2018 10:38AM)
Did you try reaching out to Teller? If you have as strong a case as you think you have, it seems to me that it would be remarkably similar to Teller's Shadows episode. He might be sympathetic to your story. What would you be seeking in the way of being "made whole?"