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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » open letter from WAM to magic community. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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jlareau
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Loyal user
Henrietta NY / Chicago Ill
220 Posts

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Okay here's a question for all of you: I have in the past built my own illusions. Metamorphosis Trunk and Visible sawing to name a few. However, instead of 'backwards engineering' I have used my own designs and idea's to acheive the same effect. Am I 'ripping someone off' because I'm doing the same effect, or am I okay because it is using my own design?

-Jlareau
Smile
Jonathan Lareau A.K.A "Jonny Card Trick"
"Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Albert Einstein

Feel free to check out my website www.jonlareau.com
Dennis Michael
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Inner circle
Southern, NJ
6018 Posts

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Jlareau,

Is one "ripping" another off when he builds and uses his own illusions?

What this is, "Is an ethical dilemma." Abortion is another ethical dilemma. A choice which some feel is wrong and other find nothing at all wrong with it,but there is no concrete legal document which one can put their finger on and say, you broke the law.
How much different does an effect have to be before it is accepted by the magic community? David Cooperfield's Buzz Saw Illusion is just another variation of sawing in half, yet it is accepted that he didn't rip anyone off. How about the twister illusion, many variations by many different builders?

One must deal with this on an individual basis. The Metamorphosis Trunk is written in many books with numerous variations, and that illusion (I believe) is open for grabs by any self builder.

Now the Visable Sawing is an easy device to make. The concept is easily figured out and your design and dimensions and presentation is your own. It is sufficiantly different than the ones marketed by others. I find nothing wrong with that either but others may, hence the ethical dilemma.

One must live with their decisions when making a choice to use a prop concept developed by another. The real legal tangle occurs when one markets a copy of a protected prop as mentioned in this topic and postings. It deprives the developer from his legal right to profit from his efforts and concepts.

There are no known existing "lines" where that cross over from what is a new variation, hence the ethical dilemma which is a subject of debate and will always be a subject of debate.
Dennis Michael
Magic Patrick
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Inner circle
Minnesota
1586 Posts

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Thanks a lot for showing me where I can get an affordable Origami Illusion. Smile
chmara
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Inner circle
Tucson, AZ
1903 Posts

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Some time ago I became the owner of several of the illusions produced by the Italian manufacturer via an estate sale. They were purchased from the builder by my late friend just before WAM was being formed.

Because the manufacturers of the originals had not patented the mechanisms and were depending upon the "ethics" of the magic community, the story I got was that he bought at least one original from each manufacturer (signing no trade secret or confidentiality documents) went home and -- as with original TV sets made cheaply - deconstructed them and brought them out looking like, but not quite being the same quality as the originals.

My late friend was not a professional performer but was happy to have the illusions for his occassional use at a price he could afford. He had no qualms buying an unprotected copy as he felt some of the originators were charging way too much for the secret -- well after any legal protection for such had expired. (His words not mine.)

When I received his estate from his widow (who knew nothing of any of his magic stuff) I warehoused some of the more controversial materials -- and in doing such saw where they needed inprovement. Over time I made the improvements (such as making sure the plank and ladder can now be done on sand, grass, etc) to the estate materials -- but have not offered them into the market as my response to the creators' cry for just compensation for their work.

I also expected that during that period the creators would seek legal protections based upon improvements to the illusions, and/or moderate prices based upon the wider availability (and lack of uniqueness) in the market place. Neither has happened. Some have added trade secret and confidentiality agreements to sales made since the flap -- but these do not cover sales made without copyright, patent or trademark legal protection before the incident. While the "knock-offs" of the illusions not covered may be "ehtically objectionable" in our small field -- they are not illegal.

It does not take a big corporation to own and enforce intellectual property rights -- I have done so for years. Because some in our field were sloppy in their approach to protecting their rights early on, are we obligated to protect them? In my opinion, no. Not legally, but if we feel a moral obligation to them in the craft, my opinion is swayed to a yes, in a reasonable time period (say an original patent seven years.)

BUT -- I do bristle when an inventor, patent holder, craftsman, etc. tries to use intimidation shouting moral obligation to stop competition. Going to dealers, and manufacturers and pressuring them into either not manufacturing similar pieces -- or requiring a price line (even if called a license fee without patent or trademark) be upheld, to me smacks of restraint of trade -- and opens the doors to collusion between "competitors" to fix a price.

As I have mentioned before (I think, even in person to Steve) that WAM had gone about the business of protection more as a "vendetta" that a positive protection mechanism for inventors. To use names of pros and reputable inventors to try an intimidate individuals who might buy the knock-offs by threatining to cut off business or bookings -- was draconian at least. To have offered a registry and service to legally protect inventions and arbitrate conflict would, to me, have been effective and supportable.

I am still sitting on one or two knock-offs (now upgraded) and out of respect for the inventors have not offered them for resale. But my period of waiting for when a regular patent would expire will soon come to an end. Then I will have no qualms over offering them at a price I consider fair and legel.

With respect-

GC
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
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