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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » How do they do it? Appearing pole v. Contact paper? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Deke Rivers
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I can't deny that I'm a fool (but the bigger fool is the one who doesn't recognize his own foolhardiness.)

Yes, Wham-O makes the only "Frisbee", but I specifically mentioned "flying disks." These people don't want an exact copy of an item that's not even legally protected (so I guess this is really a moot point, isn't it?), they just want to make one followig the same principle that works. Following your own logic, Bill, as lons as it's a "flying disk" and not a "Frisbee", it's okay. As long as they make an "appearing stick" and not a pole, it's okay, too.

This fool will still side on common sense. If we allow only one person to make something, we will NEVER progress. If we had a "hands off" approach to the Selbit Sawing, we'd never have the visible sawing today.
Bill Palmer
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That's not true at all. And I'm not making any such suggestion.

In the specific case of the Sawing, there was a huge lawsuit between Selbit and Goldin over who owned the concept. All it accomplished was the destruction of two major performers, because they wasted their time on attorneys and court costs.

The thin model sawing was developed independently of either of these performers, in Turkey, brought to Mexico, and then knocked off in the US by John Daniels and a number of other performers. By the time the dust settled, nobody had grounds for any kind of protection. But you wouldn't have the visible sawing of the Pendragons if every Tom, Dick and Harry felt that they could glom onto it and perform it just because they figured out how it worked.

This is why people like Steinmeyer and Gaughan protect things like the Origami Box and other original concepts.

Just because you decorate an item differently, it doesn't become a new item.

Now the appearing ladder, the appearing broom and the appearing shovel have elements of difference to them that might qualify them as a different effect from the appearing pole/wand/toothpick.

Or look at the appearing hatrack that is being used in the stage production of Mary Poppins. There is a different application.

The whole point is this:

If someone is currently manufacturing an item under license from an inventor and you make a copy of it for profit, either by sales or performance, you have probably violated the law.

There is no progress possible if inventors realize that within 6 months of producing an item it will be knocked off.

Let me give you an example from my own experience. In June of 2001, John Cornelius perfected the Bendable Bic. I photographed his hands and the pen for the instructions. He told me at that time that he had spent several thousand dollars and two years of research to find the correct combination of ingredients for the pen. He figured he had two years of sales before someone knocked it off.
His reasoning was that if it took him two years to find the right plastics, it would take someone else the same amount of time.

He miscalculated. It took six months before MM had their knockoff on the market. John didn't make a dime on that.

Now you say that if we only allow one person to make something, we will NEVER progress. You are totally wrong. We must allow an inventor an exclusive for a reasonable time or he will have no incentive to bring anything else out. I know that John sat on three items that would have been huge sellers because he was stung so badly on the pen.

One was a beautiful piece of telekinesis that used no threads, magnets, wires or other conventional methods. I offered him $1000 for an exclusive on it, just so I could have one. I wasn't even going to manufacture it. He decided he didn't want to release it because of guys who would see it, make one for themselves, then eventually give it to MM or one of the other knockoff merchants.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Deke Rivers
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So you're saying that he would rather have 100% of nothing rather than X% of something? Doesn't make sense to me.

How long do you allow someone exclusive "protection" on something that has no legal protecttion?
Dennis Loomis
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This is a difficult and important issue to all magicians. Bill Palmer is an ethical person and is right on when he describes how the world should work. The real world, however, operates differently. There are many forms of protection for intellectual property, from copyrights, to Trademarks, and Patents. In most cases, you have to take some legal steps to qualify for those protections, and in the case of Patents it is just way too expensive for most magicians to obtain legal protection. Obtaining a Patent is a double edged sword anyway, since the secret to the illusions or tricks has to be available to anyone that inquires at the Patent Office. And a relatively minor change to the design (I believe that Patent law stipulates 10%) qualifies your product or trick for it's own separate Patent.


And, even if your product is legally protected under the laws of the United States, it's very difficult for you to enforce that protection in the U.S., and almost impossible to enforce it in other countries.

The history of magic is replete with examples of magicians just helping themselves to the intellectual property of others. A classic example is the Zig Zag Girl Illusion of Robert Harbin. If ever someone tried hard to protect the rights to build and perform an illusion, it was Harbin. Near the end of his career, he published a big book with the explanation and schematics of many of his tricks and illusions, including the Zig Zag. It was very expensive for the time, and only 1000 copies were printed. The buyers obtained the rights to build anything in the book for their own personal use, but not the right to build and sell any of Harbin's creations to others. That was one reason that he charged so much for the book. I was one of the folks that bought his book, and built one of the earliest Zig Zag's in North America. But, the secret got out, and Harbin could not stop the piracy of his illusion. It was popular because it was so practical. You could perform it surrounded, it only required the performer and a single assistant (usually his wife!), needed no special backdrop or lighting, could pack down to fit in the back seat or trunk of a car, did not require any great skill to perform, etc. It became the most popular illusion of it's day, and there was a period of time that you could hardly see any magic show without seeing it performed. Ten's of thousands were made around the world. Today, you'll find it in the catalog of almost every illusion builder, and on display in many magic shops around the world. I still don't think that's right... but along with the other 999 people that paid for the rights, I'm powerless to do anything about it. Even ethical magicians seem to feel that if one person steals a trick, or a line, or a presentation, that it's thievery, but if many do so, then it becomes a part of magic's "public domain."

That's happened to tons of magic tricks. Among them is the great rope effect "Professor's Nightmare." It was created in my lifetime, and while he did not invent it, Gene Gordon who had a magic shop in Buffalo bought the rights. Little by little magic dealers helped themselves. "Manufacturing" it is so easy... you cut three pieces of rope the the proper length, and print a simple one page set of instructions. That makes it tempting for a magic dealer to just make them and sell them. Again, it may not be ethical or legal, but from a practical standpoint, it can't be stopped.

In more recent times, Jim Steinmeyer's brilliant illusion "The Origami Box" has been copied and ripped off all over the world. Some builders of it suggest that he really doesn't have any legal rights to his own creation. I'm not sure about that, and Jim has tried hard to stop the piracy, but with limited success. Restraint of Trade laws protect the rights of people to make and sell things which are not protected. So, if you can't prove ownership of the intellectual property in a court of law, trying to stop some one from making and selling your creation is also against the law.

It's a shame, but I'm afraid that's how the world works today. Intellectual property rights have taken a big beating, now that the internet is so pervasive. Anyone can scan a book and put it up on a web site. And many do. A large segment of our e-society dosn't think that anything can or should be protected. If it exists, then is should be "shared." But, creative people deserve to profit from their novels, photographs, musical compositions, and even magic tricks. If they can't, why should they bother to spend time writing fiction or music, or taking pictures, or inventing tricks?

Unfortunately, I have no answers. I just shake my head and wonder.

Dennis Loomis
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<BR>http://www.loomismagic.com
Bill Palmer
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For almost 30 years, I earned my living as a magician. Everything I did was aimed at magic in some way or another. Most of the things I produced, other than actual shows, was in the form of copyrighted material. The law is very specific as to how long a copyright lasts, although this does change from time to time, since Congress doesn't seem to be able to make its mind up. Now, most of my income is from royalties from books my father wrote. So I am intimately involved in and very sensitive to intellectual property issues.

Recently, I received an e-mail from a fellow who was offering to sell e-books of hundreds of copyrighted magic items, or to swap them for other e-books. This is just as illegal as stealing the books off the shelf. Among them was one of my books. It's out of print, so you might say "No harm, no foul." But there is harm. I'm getting ready to reissue this book. These illegal copies diminish the value of my work. I now have a dozen or so people tracking this illegitimus down. He thinks his use of false names will protect him. He will definitely get his due.

Deke wrote
Quote:
So you're saying that he would rather have 100% of nothing rather than X% of something? Doesn't make sense to me.

How long do you allow someone exclusive "protection" on something that has no legal protecttion?


To answer this question, let me ask another. Would you put out an item if you had to invest, say $5,000 to bring it to market, only to see it knocked off when you had recouped less than 50% of your expenses? If you look at it from that viewpoint, maybe you will see the sense of it.

Also, if you look at it from the standpoint of the fact that most of the knockoffs don't work as well as the originals, then would you want to see your idea put out in a version that basically exposes itself the first time it is done?

George Robinson paid a lot of money for the rights to some of the things he produces. Now there is a knockoff of the Lifesavers trick out. It sells for about 1/5 of what George charges. So a lot of people buy it. Then they find out that it won't stay together after the vanish of the Lifesavers. So they don't want to do the trick at all. Also, the labels on the knockoffs look phoney, because they are. George uses actual Lifesavers labels on his. The knockoff says "Lifesavors."
RUBBISH!!!!

Just because something has no obvious copyright or patent, does not mean that it has no legal protection. There are facets of the IP laws that cover trade secrets and other similar things. This is one reason that the Fitch-Kohler holdout is not sold, but leased. This may be the trend of the future in high dollar magic props.

I've used non-disclosure agreements for some of my products. They are only as good as the morals of the person who bought them. And I now know who the moral and immoral mentalists are.

Since this has gotten so far astray, let me also add that I know how to get the contact paper to go on smooth. It's very simple. But I'm not going to be an "enabler."
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
wol
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Ever wished you'd never asked!
Keep passing the open windows!
Comet
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Quote:
On 2005-03-05 00:28, Michael Baker wrote:
Top 10 List From The Notebook of Experience:


ok that has to be one of the funniest lists I've seen. Thanks for the laugh
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