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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » How Do I Deal With Myth & Magic Ethics? Help! » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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bropaul
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Well here's a little to talk about. What would you all do?

I have been working this one weekend renaissance festival for the past 12 years in Fair Oaks, CA and a few years ago an amateur magician was watching my show and we talked a few times over the course of a few years. He wanted to get in the business, but not give up his day job. I told him just go for it and have some fun.

So he did. He wasn't strong enough by himself, so he got a partner and started a duo called Myth and Magic. We ended up working the Fair Oaks show together. After a year or two they invited me to watch their show because they were doing the balloon swallowing, which is my opener and has been for the past 12 or 13 years. I watched and they were using it for an opener too and using a great deal of my routine and bits of business.

I told them the routine is great, because I did a lot of the bits and told them it would be great if they worked up some original stuff for it, but the technique was good. I also told them since this is the only California show that I kept from my old west coast faire circuit that I would appreciate that they not do it in their show at the same show I'm doing. They agreed.

This year I checked with them to make sure we didn't have any duplicate effects in our shows and they agreed that we are not doing any of the same stuff. I do this every time there is more than one magician at a festival.

On Saturday afternoon, a couple of people said that the "other guys" are doing the same routine that I'm doing. I went to them and told them very nicely to knock it off and lets get through the weekend. They agreed... Again...

On Sunday morning one of the guys came up and we had a 20 minute discussion about professionalism, professional actions, and the fact that doing the same thing in our shows cheapens each of our shows. He asked permission to do the balloon bit. I said no not at this fair, since it has been part of my show for so long and I wanted to keep it there. People come to see me do it. He said he understood and agreed not to do it at this show.

Later in the day, I had more people telling me that I was stealing there bit and/or they were stealing mine.

I love that show. The promoter loves me. We have built a relationship over the years as I have watched her kids grow and we have become like family etc. I don't want to go to her and have her have to deal with a problem which seems to be a no brainier. She doesn't need the petty hassle. BUT how do I handle these guys? How do I get them to understand that it is professional curtsy to work together and make sure that both of our shows are unique and give the audience a personal experience.

Over 32 years of performing, I have not had to deal with weekend warriors that have that "Wana be" mentality and don't really care, and yet will discuss all of this to your face and then walk away and stick it to you anyway.

I'm in hopes that there are enough pro's out there, and I know there is, that maybe I can get some comments and suggestions, one way or another and then I can send them this link and let them read the discussion.

I'm also open to the fact that I may be out of line here too, so give this some thought and drop me some comments.

Thanks in advance for your comments and sorry for taking so much time to give you the history, but I didn't want to just throw it out here without you knowing what it is truly about.

Good luck and continued success.
Bro. Paul West

www.BrotherPaulMagic.com
Paddy
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Bro Paul, as you said YOU have been doing this as an opener for years. They have obviously watched you and plagiarized you show. You have ever right (and I think every obligation to yourself) to talk to the promoter.

These guys are not only stealing your show, they are stealing money from you. Then when the audience tells you that YOU are stealing THIER bit that goes over the edge.

You are not out of line, THEY are.

Peter
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I reject your reality & substitute my own

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Xargos
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Hire a Hitman. Or expose their tricks (don't hit me I'm joking)
AntonDreaming
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Talk to the event manager about your troubles and see if he is willing to talk to the, or possibly ask them not to come back if it continues(Ive seen this done and Ive seen event managers follow through). You could also set up near them and drown them out with your pa(if the event permits).

In the end I would say that you need to just keep on doing what you do. don't waver. Tell them that their just a couple of rip off artistis and that they will never do the bit like you do and that nothing is ever good as the orignal. If your good friends with the even manager he will know there screwing you not the other way around.

If you want to a real jerk go to their shows and just call them out on it whenever they o the bit. Ive seen performers do this when nothing else works and somtimes it does and somtimes it creates more issues.

At the end of the day I would simply say F**K them and sont worry about it. There amatures and wont ever be as good as you. They are in it for the short run.

From the pages of my experience,
AJR
Andrew Rusk
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Bro Paul,

It appears you are in a difficult situation. From my experience (which is admittantly about 25 years less then yours), I have had bits and pieces of my show being copied by other performers. My main pitch is in tourist area of Vancouver, Canada, where there are a lot of street performers. As a result, I've occassionally had new entertainers/weekend warriors watch my show and get "inspired" by what they saw.

When I've had the problem, I initially approached it the same way you did: I went and talked to the entertainer explaining my situation asking them to stop performing a part of my routine. On the most part, they have stopped performing my effects, and we have gone on to get along perfectly well. Although this has happened to me, it has never really been a major problem, my performance of my routine has always been better recieved then someone elses rendition of my routine. I truly belive that no one can perform a routine better then the person that created it.

In your position you really only have one choice. You have tried to be civil, and it has failed. Your only real option is to go to the festival organizers. You need to stand up for your artistic integrity and explain the situation, the then leave it up to the festival organizer to take additional actions. Especially if you are in the booking agents good books, the performers may very well be asked to leave the festival, and word will likely spread through booking agents about their performance practices. You shouldn't take any more action against the performers directly, as any hard feelings will just negatively affect both of your shows further.

Or, worst case scenario if you want to avoid conflict, you could use a different routine when you are performing in a festival with these entertainers.

A.
Michael Baker
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Hey, Paul! I am REALLY sorry to hear about this one.

I fully commend you for taking the diplomatic route, but it may be time to change tactics, as goodwill and brotherhood seem to be escaping their sense of reason and good taste.

Ask a few pals to hang out at their show and ride it hard and loud. Have them openly heckle the idiots for copying your show. Have them do it until something gives. All-the-while, you are innocently working your magic at the opposite end of the festival. What could a couple young punks do in front of an audience that is starting to doubt their credibility... deny it?

If they are going to play like sneaky little *****, let them taste the bitter side of it for themselves.

I have been ripped off in the past like you, and I hate it.

~michael
~michael baker
The Magic Company
bropaul
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Hey guys thanks for the response. I know when you have something good in your show, it has a limited life because it gets ripped within a year or two. The problem with these guys is that they are very understanding and sincere when you talk with them and then they walk away and stab you in the back.

I have more than enough material to make a change. But when they lie to me, it pis*** me off and I stand my ground. It's easy to deal with people that just say, go **** yourself, I'm doing what I want. But when we make an agreement and all is well and they continue to slam my show, I wasn't sure how to handle it with the tack that I usually have for all performers, especially starter acts. I like to teach not punch their lights out. Seems to make sense to me.

But this thread will be sent to the promoter and the performers so they know what the general rules are. It may help... I may be out of work at that show, but maybe, just maybe a light may go on for them and others reading... Just maybe...

A new chapeter in my lecture, I can tell you that.

Thanks again for your interest and understanding.
Bro. Paul West

www.BrotherPaulMagic.com
Michael Baker
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Best of luck to you, sir!

~michael
~michael baker
The Magic Company
sethb
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Boy, this is a tough one! As much as I like it, I can't agree with Michael Baker's idea of ruining the copycats' show. As a practical matter, this type of response could only escalate the situation and come back to bite you in the butt. Besides, the audience doesn't want to get involved in some sort of dispute, they just want to be entertained, so I doubt they would appreciate/support it, either. Finally, as a philosophical matter, I'm not sure that stooping to their level really solves anything.

On the other hand, is a promoter/booker really going to get involved in an intellectual property dispute between two performers? I can't see that happening either -- especially since he/she has no way of judging who is right, it's just BroPaul's word against theirs. The promoter MIGHT have an interest in not having two acts do the same thing at the same event, but even if that's so, his/her answer might be to bar BOTH of them from peforming the routine in question.

If these back-stabbing copycats are by any chance members of the SAM or IBM (yeah, right!), BroPaul could legitimately file a complaint with those organizations. You might also try to get an attorney to send these guys a "lawyer letter" explaining the perils and consequences of copyright infringement, and that it is a Federal offense (assuming that you are on solid legal ground here). At the very least, their conduct may also constitute theft of trade secrets or unlawful interference with your business. Heck, throw the book at 'em!

Of course, the copycats will eventually lose out in the end, since BroPaul is easily capable of coming up with new and original material, whereas they are not. But I agree that's not much help in the present situation.

Wish I had better answers for you; hopefully somebody else will. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
carbone1853
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You are in a tough spot. If asking them to stop didn’t work, then you are stuck. Unless the promoter is a CLOSE personal friend or better yet a close relative, they are very, very unlikely to take sides in a dispute of this kind. If push comes to shove they are likely to replace both acts. (Probably with 2 non-magic acts to be safe)

If I were you I would just change my opener.

Any time we have material that is good any easy (or at least accessible to the average magician) it is likely to be copied. It sucks but that is the way it is. You would hope for better behavior from professionals, but you don’t always get it.

Chris
sethb
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Just wondering if we would get more responses and discussion if this thread were moved to the "Tricky Business" or the "Food for Thought" sections of the Café. BroPaul, I think it's up to you to make the transfer request, if you think it would be helpful/appropriate.

P.S. As Chris has noted, unfortunately thievery of this sort is pretty common in our profession. For example, Kellar stole Maskelyne's levitation, and then got mad when Carter the Great stole it from him!
In the "good old days," a vaudevillian could complain to the NVA (National Vaudeville Association), which would hear cases of plagarism and then bar the offender from using the routine, or if necessary, bar the person from working, period. But those days are gone forever; today part of the answer may just be to keep moving forward, as others have noted. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Michael Baker
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Agreed my suggestion was extreme, but it was more meant tongue in cheek, than anything. It stems from having been in a simialr situation, which is highly unpleasant, especially if you support your family on your intellectual property. While I understand that the best, and most civil approach is through diplomacy and turning the other cheek, I also know that when a dog gets tired of having his food stolen he learns to bite back.

...and yes I know that is what separates us from the dogs. But if you saw that scenario unfold in the course of a movie, admit it.. you'd stand up and cheer. Smile

~michael
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Michael J. Douglas
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It seems you have two choices - either change your act (which is sad that you even have to consider it) or go to the event organizers. It's a tough decision, but I would choose the latter. It's true that it may cause trouble, but you have to stand your ground. It's obvious that these punks have stolen what you've worked hard to establish. With the long history you have with the event organizers, hopefully, they'll be more apt to side with you.
Michael J.
�Believe then, if you please, that I can do strange things.� --from Shakespeare�s �As You Like It�
Lee Darrow
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Having been a similar situation, as a Ren Faire many moons ago, I did what we call in the MidWest the "three passes" approach. I talked to the perp once, giving him feedback and some help, and asked him to vary his routine and not to include a specific, signature routine of mine in his act.

He said he would and then didn't.

Second pass, I went to him and reminded him of my being nice about it and even offered to help him with a replacement bit, one that I had used myself, but was not using in this show. He agreed.

And continued using my signature bit AND the new material as well.

Third pass, I told him, flat out, to knock it off, that the routine was mine and the script was copyrighted (which it was). Further, I told him that I would have friends in the crowd with video cameras and if I got him on tape doing my routine again, we would deal with this on a more unpleasant basis, possibly involving lawyers and courts.

Again he agreed and went right on doing my stuff.

I had witnesses to all three passes.

After the third time around, I went, with my witnesses, to the Faire management and pointed out a clause in my contract that notes something about people who perform magic who steal my copyrighted material (I tend to be a bit protective that way). It states: "The Faire will mediate any disputes between the perfoemer and other magicians should a dispute arise regarding the use of performer's copyrighted material." I then showed the Manager the videotape and the witnesses all said that I had approached the other performer multiple times and had been VERY polite about the matter.

The Manager called in the other performer and fired him on the spot. We were both in our first years there, but my feedback from the crowds was MUCH better than his and this incident was the capper for him.

You might want to try a variation on the theme.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
http://www.leedarrow.com
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
Mario Morris
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Bropaul
I know you will come out on top on this one because what they don't have is your experiance. Just blow them out.
Keep on keeping on.
Mario
bropaul
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Good stuff guys...

I know I'm going to go to the promoter/director of this show and I just wanted to put this discussion out there to let people on both sides of this situation know what other people think.

It's not new that we loose a line or a bit, it's happened over the years a lot. And I'm not saying that I haven't picked up a line or two along the way, but I do try to talk to the other performer about it and they usually give me advise on how to use the line or bit and then also tell me if I ever use the routine with them around that I would loose as finger or other parts of my body.

I have no problem with them using my bits anywhere, anytime, except at a show that we are both working, which is only this one.

The promoter is a close personal friend and is going to be upset about this because I didn't come to her right away, but I wanted the dust to settle after the show and not put her through a what I consider a performer to performer dispute.

We'll talk next week and then I'll let it go. I've already got a new opener that they will love to use for their other California shows...
Bro. Paul West

www.BrotherPaulMagic.com
TheAmbitiousCard
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Hi Bro. Paul,
Sorry I missed you this year. Perhaps next year.
You did a great show when I saw you. Lots of fun.

Have you considered the knuckle sandwitch opener for those
guys Smile
www.theambitiouscard.com Hand Crafted Magic
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bropaul
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Thanks Frank...

Yep considered, but rejected. See ya next year.
Bro. Paul West

www.BrotherPaulMagic.com
kOnO
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Try The People's Court!!!


Brother Paul, Sounds like you are taking the right path.
I just can't understand how someone can tell you to your face that they will respect your routine, then as soon as you are away they continue to use your material. These guy's do not deserve to be working at the same festival as you.


kOnO
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Alan Munro
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There's always the legal alternative. Copyright your act, video tape them for evidence and sue the pants off of them. Get a lawyer's opinion, first, so that you do it right.

Jerks only respond to the threat of a negative consequence, to themselves.
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