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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » When is it "mine"? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

spfranz
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My wife makes teddy bears for collectors. There is a written rule (someplace in her world) that if you change 10 percent of someone else's design/pattern, it becomes "yours".

My question is, how does everyone think this applies to magic effects? I know and understand that credit should always be given, but at what point am I free to share an effect with this group (for example).

If I read an effect in a book or see it on a video or lecture, and I make my changes to it, at what point are they enough to allow me to share it saying "this effect is based off a trick by Mr. Magicman" without making Mr. Magicman become Mr. Angryman?

Scott
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Peter Marucci
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If you do Mr. Magicman's coins across and just change the half dollars for quarters, then that is not enough.
On the other hand, if you switch a classic palm for a thumb palm FOR A LEGITIMATE AND EXPLAINED REASON, then credit Mr. M for inspiring your routine.
On the third hand (hey, we're magicians!), if you read about Mr. Magicman's coins across, like the idea, and create a whole routine of your own, with your own moves and sleights, then it's yours alone.
That will do for a rule of thumb.
But others may disagree (and probably will).
cheers,
Peter Marucci
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Jeb Sherrill
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I'll go with you on that one Peter. It has to be a legitimate change, but if it's different, it's different. Of course everyone will have their own opinion of how different it has to be. After all, just how much is ten percent in a magic trick. Like Peter, my rule of thumb is that the effect must be improved somehow, not just a change for change sake.

Sable
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martinkaplan
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I think Peter provides a good set of guidelines. I would add that it helps to get a second opinion when you think you have made a change in method or made an
"improvement" to an effect. You just might discover, as I did, that someone beat you to the punch... a number of years ago.

-Marty
Jeb Sherrill
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Good point Marty. That's what I always have to do. I can't believe how many passes and sleights I thought I'd invented until I checked with finger flinger buddies. Darn. And I was soooo close, sooo many times.

Sable
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Burt Yaroch
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Just to change the tack a bit... what if we're not talking about an effect but just some magical information? For example, a rather well known magi is selling "where to get cheap IT" for about $13. (I don't understand why he thinks this "intellectual property" is his to sell in the first place as he admits he paid $500 for it. But that's not the point.)

Could I pass along this information to my fellow magi?

How does this differ from an effect as in Scott's original post?
Yakworld.
Jeb Sherrill
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Hmmmmmmm. I guess I'd have to know the circumstances.

Sable

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Joshua Quinn
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Quote:
For example, a rather well known magi is selling "where to get cheap IT" for about $13. (I don't understand why he thinks this "intellectual property" is his to sell in the first place


I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't think that particular piece of information is anyone's intellectual property. If you asked me what the fastest-moving land animal is, I could say "I'll tell you for five bucks," and that wouldn't be stealing intellectual property even though you could buy a book with the same information. Now if he were selling "the secret to making the exact same invisible thread that so-and-so sells in their ITR," then that might be more of a case. But simply telling you where you can find a thread that's invisible enough to use for magic purposes is, IMHO, no more "intellectual property" than telling you who's got Bike decks on sale this month. And if someone decides that the convenience of obtaining the info quickly, without having to look further, is worth his asking price, that's their choice.

Quote:
as he admits he paid $500 for it.


If that's true then it may go a long way toward explaining his motives. He's probably just bitter that he was suckered into paying such a fearsome (d'oh!) price for that bit of info, and is trying to recoup his loss a few dollars at a time. "Let's see, if I can find 39 people who are 1/39th as gullible as I was, then I can break even. And every one after that is pure profit..." Smile
Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. Unfortunately every problem also contains the seeds of an infinite number of non-solutions, so that first part really isn't super helpful.
Burt Yaroch
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Smile

So you think he's trying to make everything even-steven? (d'oh!)

I think alot of this magical flag planting has to be on the honor system (which I think dove-tails nicely with Peter's recommendations). We know how much effort we have put into working an effect. Even if the handling has changed completely from the original I would still credit the initial creator.

Likewise, if I came up with a totally original effect, showed it around the magic parlor, and then saw it in print a year later with no credit to me would I feel like the last man to the gold rush? Nope.

I know that is my effect, and, if I was so inclined, I would still put it into print as my intellectual property.

Most likely the handling has been altered to the detriment of the effect anyway, as often happens in these cases (or so I've heard).
Yakworld.
spfranz
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I'm right there with you Yak. But my question was more along the lines of not offending anyone by putting it out there for all to see. Even though I've given credit where credit is due, they may feel like it wasn't changed enough for me to share it with the world. Make sense?
Never ask a dog to watch your food.
Jeb Sherrill
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You're right spfranz, and frankly they may feel that way no matter what. There are a lot of cliques in magic and if you're in that clique and nod to everyone else, then they're just fine with it. If you're not in the clique, they'll pummel you no matter what you change or who you credit. It can be a no win and sometimes you just have to do it anyway. If you've got something you want to share and you feel it's changed enough, then publish it, give everyone a nod you can and just go. You can't please them all, especially in magic. Don't even try.

Sable

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Scott F. Guinn
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I think if the routine is still pretty close to it's inspiration, you should try to contact the person who created it and ask his permission to publish your version, and then respect his wishes.

It's not always possible to contact them, so make sure to credit them if you can't ask first. I have found that, usually, most creators are happy to give permission. I have only been turned down once, When I was using a portion of a creator's concept. He said he felt it gave to much of his marketed routine away. He was right, and I didn't publish the thing. I still USE it, though.

I should mention that, unless you are an Ammar, Sankey, Roth, etc, odds are good you're not going to sell that many copies anyway. In magic, if your book sells 1000 copies, it's considered a "best seller." very few sell that many. So if you're in doubt, just put it in your notebook. Odds are good you wouldn't have sold many anyhow!
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Paul Chosse
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Dizzy Gillespie said of a guy that was copying Charlie Parker "You can't steal a gift. Bird gave his music to the world, if you can use it, it's yours." Along those lines, you can have everything I've got if you want it, you can't be me. If all I have to fall back on is the trick, the move, I'm in trouble anyway.

Interpretation (presentation, if you prefer) of material is what sets one apart. Don't forget Leipzig, who on seeing someone do his act said "Yes, but he's doing it so well!" Gillespie and Liepzig - both knew that all the imitation in the world couldn't change their essence, limit their ability, diminish their stature - and in refusing to let temporary annoyance sway them from their course that stature only grew.

The mark of their greatness was their ability to focus, their love of their art, and the confidence that there was always more where that came from - take what you want, you can't steal a gift!
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
Steve Brooks
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I agree with Paul on this 100%. But if you are one of those who are really concerned about the credit issue, then simply do your best to ask the creator, or at the very least, be honest and mention where your inspiration came from.

If you are a creator of effects, and are worried about getting the credit yourself, Larry Jennings once told me; "Put it in print" Sounds like good advice. Smile
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
Matt Graves
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I think that in magic, just like in music, very little is truly original. If I was going to call a trick my own, I would make sure it was drastically and noticeably different from what everyone else was doing.
Jeb Sherrill
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Quote:
Dizzy Gillespie said of a guy that was copying Charlie Parker "You can't steal a gift. Bird gave his music to the world, if you can use it, it's yours."


I think this is a very important point.
I once asked Johnny Brown how he felt about people stealing his act. "They can't steal my act," he said shrugging his shoulders.
"They can steal my material, but that can't do it the way I do. If they make it work their own way, great!"

I think it's just a matter of common decency that you ask permission of another performer before you do certain things with their material, but we as creators also need to keep a good attitude about it and remember that we are artists with a gift and no one can steal that.

Song Bird had it right.

Sable
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Steven the Amusing
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This is a fascinating (non-invisible) Smile thread.

Seriously, I'm a relative youngster at magic, but the creative juices have been flowing. My problem is - well, I haven't read the "entire" body of magic, nor have I seen it performed everywhere. In other words, my library of many dozens of books and dozens of tapes is insufficient for me to conclude that what I've done is indeed
"original" - that is - it hasn't been done or publised before.

HOWEVER, I *know* that it is original to ME!

I think the crossover point is when I
"publish" what I do - though I don't plan to write a book. I have a public web site [containing no secrets] and a secret website on which I keep my working ideas - most of which are performance tested.

I'm curious about what the well read magi has to say about what I've produced both in terms of originality and quality. For example, one children's effect I created I call
"20th Century Socks".
Clearly this is a reference to the 20th Century Silks which inspired me. I use a change bag for the effect and instead of a silk appearing between two others, my SOCK appears due to the mischievious Clarence - a trained circus flea. My sock is found to have been replaced with one of the silks.
I then insist that Clarence fix things and toss the silk-sock-silk arrangement back into the bag. The sock appears back on my foot and the silks are as they should be.

Most of the routine is standard faire. But I *believe* my method of making the sock appear and disappear from my foot *IS* original. Magicians with far more experience than I, have asked to know the secret method which is obviously flattering.

If you feel inclined, click on the link above and give me private or public feedback.
NOTE: The above site is NOT the secret site, but I describe the terms under which I grant access to the secret site.

In my profession (I'm an engineer) "creation of an invention which is non-obvious to people of ordinary skill in the art" qualifies it as patentable - provided it hasn't been patented already. I feel that crossing this boundary in magic equates to a legitimate conclusion that the effect is "mine".
Dennis Michael
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Your effect is sufficiently different to be classified as your own. Simple descriptive effect of a trick is not copyrightable (although I am not a lawyer) like jokes. Yes joke books are but not the jokes themselves because they can and have been created by two people at the same time.

I think Peter said it best above.
Dennis Michael
chrisw
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My dilemma,

I saw an online vid of an effect (Dean's Box) and was very impressed. However, after watching the effect a couple of times, I figured out how to replicate it (I assume my method is the same as the original method). I love the effect but could never afford to buy it ($250 - eek).

What is your opinion on the situation? Would it be alright to build and perform the effect? How about selling it (hypothetically - I wouldn't have the time or the inclination)? Obviously I've not purchased the effect....does this have any bearing on matters?

Regards,
Chris
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Quote:
On 2002-03-12 12:32, chrisw wrote:
Would it be alright to build and perform the effect? How about selling it


Since you were inspired by Dean's effort, then you wander into a grey area when it comes to building one for yourself.

Dean's originality comes from the fact that he took some old ideas and invented a new way to present them.

Since the presentation is his idea, it's only fair that you compensate him for his time and effort.

In a sense, you are buying the 'license' to perform the effect using his presentation.

As for building your own version(s) and selling it, that's clearly a big no-no! You are certainly violating intellectual property in that case.

If you bought one from Dean and then decided later to sell it, that would be okay, as long as you no longer performed the effect in that manner.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
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