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Burt Yaroch
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Perhaps some of the pros would care to share their experiences with getting their original material protected under copyright. Specifically:

What in magic is protected under copyright?

What are the pitfalls with obtaining a copyright for an effect/book/lecture notes etc.?

Some interesting thoughts were raised as we discussed ethics in magic. I’d like to hear more.

I, personally, have had limited experience with copyright law (never in magic) and have found the policies protecting my intellectual property to be as “crystal clear” as the lines we were attempting to draw in ethics. (Perhaps I'm just slow that way.) Smile



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Lecture notes, scripts for original routines, and the like could be protected by copyright. I am drawing on college courses since I am not a lawyer.

Pleanty of information can be obtained from the US Copyright Office


Protection is automatic when your piece is published. You can 'publish' your work merely by sending it to yourself via snail mail. The postmark nails down the date. Do not open the package--ever. This preserves the integrity of the publish date. And, of coure the work should carry one of the required copyright notices on it.

But the discussion on what magic can be copyrighted will indeed go on. I also look forward to others comments.

Have fun Smile


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Ray Banks
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Andy Leviss
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A couple of random points:

1) Mailing it to yourself as copyright protection is a myth--it will not hold up in a court of law. Think how easy it is to mail yourself an envelope today, then two years from now find a new bestseller, copy the manuscript for it, steam the envelope open, and put the purloined text into it.

2) Your work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as you write it, regardless of publication, and regardless of whether or not you register the copyright.

3) You can only get the right to sue somebody for copyright infringement and collect damages from the infringer by registering the copyright.

4) According to a business lawyer I spoke with (who is also an author), it's generally not worth registering for most of us. If you don't have the money to sue an infringer (although you can collect fees in a judgment, you still have to pay them up front), you don't gain any benefit from being registered.

FWIW, bearing in mind that I'm not a lawyer and any advice from a lawyer should be taken over what I've stated here.

Note: I have PMs turned off; if you want to reach me, please e-mail [email]Andy.MagicCafe@DucksEcho.com[/email]!
Peter Marucci
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With 30 years' experience in the newspaper business, I can point out that different laws apply in different juridictions.

However, in general, the very act of publishing something automatically copyrights it.

But remember, unless someone steals your work word for word, it is very difficult to successfully prove copyright infringement in court.


Peter Marucci

Jeb Sherrill
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Here's the other problem. We can copyright anything we want, but we're magicians, not writers. Basically, stopping someone from copying your written work is one thing and stopping them from using the material in the magic field (physically I mean) is another matter. Here's a really weird thing I heard once: you can't copyright a trick (though you might be able to patent a gimmick), but you can copyright choreography. I guess that means if you put your stuff in a play with movements you can copyright it, but I'll bet that only covers the movements. I'd don't know, I just know it's really tricky.


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Burt Yaroch
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So I'm automatically protected but to sue I need to register and to register cost $30 a pop and if I register I won't win unless I have even more money so I'm back to being automatically protected but with no recourse if my copyright is violated.

So a copyright is kinda like a mobius strip. Cool.
Steve Brooks
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Okay guys,

here are a couple links that may help:

10 Big Myths about copyright explained

And for even more reliable information:

United States Patent and Trademark Office

I hope this helps. Smile
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
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