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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » Protocols and the Ethics of Secrecy (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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joeyjojo
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OK, we all know what this is about. "While standing on one leg" here are the issues:

A) Is it ethical for a publisher to sell a book without divulging the contents? And can they do so knowing that by the time people receive the book and review it the limited number of copies published will be sold out? (this basically forces everyone to pre-order something blindly).
B) Assuming that it is, it is ethical for them to demand that those who fork out the money blindly not divulge the contents? (Not that this is quite what they're doing here)
C) Since in this case the contents are not 'secret methods' used in effects, is it ethical for the publisher to stipulate that the SUBJECT of the book remain a secret?
D) Is it ethical for those who have purchased the book to tell others about the content, knowing full well that part of the value amongst those who have bought it is that it is 'exclusive' to them?
E) If someone (say, 'MAGIC' magazine) wants to review the book, is it ethical for them to do so?

Before answering, consider two points: One - I'm no specialist in ethics or law and I'm using the term 'ethical' loosely. Here it's just a synonym for 'reasonable' or 'just'. Two - many of the above questions boil down to the same point, namely: what rights does an author/publisher have over the behavior of his/her readers? Divulging secrets is generally frowned upon in Magic but what about divulging material that is generally not considered to be 'secretive' (such as to contents of a book)?
puppetboy
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Here's what I think:

A) Yes. Perfectly ethical.
B)They can ask people to keep quiet, but the can't demand or compel it.
C)Again, they can request, but they can't "stipulate," that secrets be kept.
D)I don't know about ethical here, but nobody likes people who spoil the surprise endings of movies, so this seems kind of similar. I wouldn't be unethical to spill the beans, but just kind of obnoxious.
E)Movies with surpise endings get reviewed all the time. Maybe this is similar. If it's not possible to review "Protocols" without spoiling anything at all, then the reviewer should do his best to spoil as little as possible.
Jonathan Townsend
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Ethics in magic has at least two faces.

1) is economical, people pay for secrets

2) is artistic, people pay for great works

Some items are sold as "special".

As to the "secret", do you want to know? Is it that big a deal to you?

As MANY of you should know by now, one of my "secrets" was taken and made public without my permission. Since this community has tolerated and even lauded those involved, please don't tempt me to speak about secrets in magic. The greatest secret most here are hiding (from) is that the secrets IN magic do not make magicians better people.
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joeyjojo
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Quote:
On 2005-11-30 12:47, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
As to the "secret", do you want to know? Is it that big a deal to you?


Well, I've never been much of a M.Maven fan (which puts me in the minority, I know) but - as with most other people - I am curious what the hoopla is all about. But my interest in the subject isn't just about this book per se, it's about the general issue of whether or not an author/creator of an effect has the right (either legally or ethically) to control what you do with their book/effect. Obviously, if someone copyrights an effect then there are legal issues involved. And obviously, if we're dealing with secrets of magic tricks/illusions, then it is only right for magicians to keep the secrets to themselves (as in the Magic Circle's motto). But this case seems to be about an author/a publisher who wants something that is not generally considered to be 'secretive' to be treated as such. The actual 'topic' of the book is meant to be kept a secret here, not just the 'contents' (as per most magic books).

I also have a major issue with dealers who pre-sell items. My defence has always been to wait for others to take the bait and then find out from their (almost invariably disappointed) reviews whether or not to purchase the item myself. In this case, the dealers/publishers limited the book to 500 and sold them all before anybody could actually make an informed decision.

I vaguely remember that there was another magician who wrote a book of magic routines but stipulated that nobody is allowed to perform any of the routines in the book! (I think it was Ted Lesley, though I'm not certain about this). So the book was only marketed to those who wanted to know the secrets of his routines. But as long as he clarified this from the outset there was nothing wrong with it (in my view) since people knew what they were in for. But in the case of Protocols the publisher/author would not let people know what they're in for at all. The fact that all 500 (or 496 or whatever) sold out says a lot about Maven's reputation, and a lot about the effect that hype has on magicians/mentalists. Some who received the book have said that they're very pleased with it, others have registered their disappointment. But whether or not they are happy with the book, they all took a chance in buying because they had no idea what it would be about.
Is this the future of magic-marketing? Hype and a fancy name, but no description of the effect/contents? "Chris Angel's new effect - $50, but we won't let you know what it is until all are sold-out".
What if Maven's book were to comprise 100 empty pages and then one page at the end saying "Suckers!!!!!". (I'm convinced some buyers would come on these boards and say "I can't tell you what the book is, but it is REALLY worthwhile to those who understand it").

besos,
joey
Harry Murphy
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(A) Is it ethical for a publisher to advertise a book for sale without divulging its contents? Ethics has no play in this. It is a marketing ploy. Suggest that buying something will make you smarter, more beautiful, taller, skinner, richer, or a better magician is fair game in advertising. Why is it done? It works. Max and his publisher have proven it yet again.

The real question would be: is it ethical to put out a product under a persons name while knowing its pure crap?

Jonathan, this is not a magic book, it is not a routine, and it has no secrets. This is more like the movie “The Sixth Sense” (he was dead) or “The Crying Game” (she was a he) where people who knew the ending kept it to themselves so that others could enjoy the movie. Even reviewers didn’t tip the ending. This book has no real secret and clearly no magic trick being revealed. It is a colossal joke and keeping the punch line close (secret) is the real trick.

The book is a Gold Brick and the various threads here at the Café (including this one) are great studies in cogitative dissonance. I hear the cords of a Scott Joplin tune played softly in the background! LOL!!!

(B) It is the ethics of the Carney! Keep the suckers quiet and get them to bring their friends in. That is, it has nothing to do with ethics but everything to do with marketing.
(C) The Same as B.
(D) This is not really a question of ethics but of personal integrity. If you give your word and you break your work what does that make you?
(E) One can review a book (movie, play, music performance, and magic act) without tipping the ending, punch line, or “secret”. For example one could say that a given book is a well-produced, well-researched, well-formatted, and well-written piece of crap. That would be an honest and ethical review.

Of course I could be wrong (and probably am) and I understand that it has been said that magic is dead!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Frank Tougas
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Once you buy something it is yours to do with whatever you wish. You can take a book or manuscript and shelve it, wrap fish in it; you can even copy it as long as it is solely for your own purposes such as having a copy to use while keeping the original for a collectable. What you can't do is copy and resell it. That is the purpose of ethics, to take over where the law ends.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Murphy. Personally I am always, let me emphasize ALWAYS, suspicious of items that are exclusives, numbered and signed, or limited edition. Most time it ends up being 98% hype and 2% garbage anything left over would actually be useable to you (do the math).

Try this sometime. Get a magic magazine that is ten years old and look at the advertisements. You will find loads of items the copy will convince you that you can not live without. Yet you have never seen these items, never heard of them, never found anyone who admitted to buying them not have you seen additional advertisements regarding them.

I think the whole idea of selling performance rights as part of a book or DVD package is nothing more than a marketing scheme to get more money from you. If you were really selling performance rights it would be to one single individual, not advertised in a full page spread.

You buy it, you can do it. No one would ever challenge you in a legal arena because like the top half of a thin model sawing - they haven't a leg to stand on.

Frank Tougas
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2005-11-30 13:44, Frank Tougas wrote:...You buy it, you can do it. No one would ever challenge you in a legal arena because like the top half of a thin model sawing - they haven't a leg to stand on....


Frank, folks,

This is exactly why I don't sell my magic. I give items to people under the proviso that they keep my secrets for themselves and their lay audiences, IE NO PERFORMING FOR MAGICIANS, and keep the ideas and props ect away from discussion among magicians.

Those who have broken their word to me and broken that trust are not so welcome to more of my work. I also suggest folks who value their work consider the history of those who they are showing their magic.

Folks who buy the latest Max Maven book are under no obligation to keep any secret regarding the book or its contents. The cognitive dissonance over this issue is telling.
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Frank Tougas
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Some one giving you an unpublished secret with that proviso is certainly ethical and a valid expectation. It is exactly the kind of circumstance where the author can make justification for the claim of not passing the info along. I would also be most unhappy with a person breaking that kind of trust - though I realize it goes on all the time.

My main reason for not performing for other magicians has less to do with a line or routine being stolen as it is not very fulfilling to do that type of performance. I'd rather perform for real folks. Smile

Frank Tougas
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Bill Palmer
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It's a moot point, Joey. There are no more copies to sell. Those who wanted them bought them. Those who waited to see who took the bait, didn't get a copy.

It is ethical to ask anything you want (within the law) of a customer when he purchases an item.

It is naive to expect them to adhere to anything they did not sign.

And while there is no magic secret or trick divulged in the book, there is something in the book that, to certain people, is apparently a secret. Many of them would not have bothered to look for it had Max not written this up.

I was not disappointed in the book. It validated some of my thoughts about magic.
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Frank Simpson
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Bill-

Perhaps not so moot just yet! I just looked and found 4 copies available on ebay. The secondary market is sure to raise its own debates I'm sure!
Jonathan Townsend
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Bill there are up to 500 copies to be bought and sold for the right price.

Only in magicdom would the basic notion of supply/demand be considered a secret.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
landmark
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Well I just finished watching the DVD of the movie Sleuth, and I must say that the actor who played Inspector Doppler was excellent. That's what I told my son who had never seen it before . . .


I dunno. Years ago when I went to see the mystery play The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, at the curtain call the actor who played the murderer asked the audience not to reveal the ending to their friends. Which seems reasonable. You don't won't to spoil it for future audiences. But since Max's book is limited, theoretically there are no future audiences to spoil it for.

The secret then is 1) not something that can spoil future enjoyment or 2) something that the magic community considers part of its private knowledge. Therefore, I don't think there is any ethical obligation here.

Of course eventually the "secret" will be common knowledge. The value of the book will reside in its physical manifestation.


Jack Shalom
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I read that when the movie, "Psycho" was first released, there was a rule where NOBODY was allowed in the theater in the last twenty minutes of the movie. This, of course, was a marketing ploy, albeit a great one. One sees the same thing here.

The purpose was twofold, as it did for the movie:
- it ramped up the demand for the book
- whilst keeping the secret

I have a copy and will only discuss it with people who have the book. 'Tis only fair in my eyes.

Dave
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Jonathan Townsend
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Are there any secrets in magicdom?
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John LeBlanc
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Quote:
On 2005-11-30 11:43, joeyjojo wrote:
A) Is it ethical for a publisher to sell a book without divulging the contents? And can they do so knowing that by the time people receive the book and review it the limited number of copies published will be sold out? (this basically forces everyone to pre-order something blindly).


Your question presupposes that Stephen Minch expected to sell out the book before the shipping date. That is an incorrect presumption.

John
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joeyjojo
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Quote:
On 2005-12-01 08:01, John W. LeBlanc wrote:
Quote:
On 2005-11-30 11:43, joeyjojo wrote:
A) Is it ethical for a publisher to sell a book without divulging the contents? And can they do so knowing that by the time people receive the book and review it the limited number of copies published will be sold out? (this basically forces everyone to pre-order something blindly).


Your question presupposes that Stephen Minch expected to sell out the book before the shipping date. That is an incorrect presumption.

John



Yes, you're right about that. Still, I'm very wary of presale techniques: I generally associate such things with dealers such as Alakazam, not with reputable, upstanding companies such as Minch's. Why sell something before anyone can see it?(aside, of course, from the solicited 'big names' who cannot but endorse the product). At least with pre-sales in general, there is a description of the product (the accuracy of which can later be examined), whereas in this case orders were taken solely on the basis of Mavenstein's reputation.
Is magic dead or something?
John LeBlanc
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Quote:
On 2005-12-01 17:12, joeyjojo wrote:
Still, I'm very wary of presale techniques: I generally associate such things with dealers such as Alakazam, not with reputable, upstanding companies such as Minch's.


Well, given the end result from studying the contents of the book, I perfectly understand. I think the analogy of giving away the movie ending before people get to see the movie is a great one. (By the way, I never saw The Crying Game...)

Quote:
On 2005-12-01 17:12, joeyjojo wrote:
Is magic dead or something?


You know, people have been repeating that for over a hundred years. George Santayana was right.

John
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Jonathan Townsend
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How can magic be dead?

Magic is a feeling, like happy.

Okay it's a meta-feeling but it still comes from the same place... where expectation does not match up with observation.

Magic will be with us a long time. Enjoy it.
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For me, magic is undead.
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joeyjojo
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OK, dead or undead, what about the other issues? Will we see more 'mystery' items sold to magicians? Or how about this: which magicians/mentalists have the necessary clout to sell out 500 books on an unspecified subject? Many who bought Protocols argue that anything by Maven is worth buying. Who else has this sort of reputation?
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