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JAEIII
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Hey everyone,

Have a question out of plain curiousity. Sorry if this has been asked already. If a magician enjoys building illusions and he thinks he would be good at building them professionally, what steps does he need to take to do so. Obviously certain illusions belong to certain inventors and you're not allowed to build or sell them without permission. Are there any illusions out there you don't need permission to build and sell? If not, where do you get information on what you can and cannot build and sell?

Obviously building Copperfield's Portal is out of the question, but something like an old sawing in half or shadow boxes? Any information anyone can give me would be greatly appreciated. I am more curious than anything else. Thanks!!!
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ClintonMagus
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Typically, if the plan is available commercially, then it is fair game. I realize this is not always true, however. Most "licensed" illusions require the purchase of the plans and/or performance rights from the inventor or owner. One example of this would be Modern Art by Jim Steinmeyer.

ZigZag is an example of an illusion whose building and performance rights were granted by Robert Harbin only to the purchasers of "The Magic of Robert Harbin". This book was/is in short supply and expensive, so folks such as Paul Osborne began offering knock-off, unlicensed plans that eventually became accepted. Now the Zig Zag is sort of like "Xerox machine" or "Jell-O" - it has become de facto public domain, right or wrong.

If you would like to build your own illusions and are an experienced builder, check out "The Great Illusions of Magic", by Byron Wels for a lot of plans and descriptions. The Osborne plans and books are another place to begin, but be very careful to check and re-check dimensions before making a cut. They are often wrong, but it is not too hard to figure out what they should be. Abbott Magic is another good source for plans.

By far, the best plans available are from Owen Magic Supreme. Many of theirs are avaialable individually, or in the "Keep the Wheels Turning" books.

Regardless of where you get your plans, they will almost always need to be modified to make the illusions fit the assistant, to make them more deceptive, or simply to make them "your own" and more marketable.

Good luck,

Amos McCormick
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JAEIII
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That's good advice and I thank you for it. I'm not sure if you fully understood what I meant though. I meant building the illusions and then selling them to other magicians. Not just building them for my own personal show. Are there illusions out there (like a shadow box) that can be built and sold without having to worry about copy-rights or getting in trouble. I don't want to be a rip-off builder. Only build and sell props that are allowed. Anyone have any advice or comments? Thanks in advance!
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Eldon
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A good place top start would be the Wels book. You can sell any Illusion in it. Also, it very well could spark some creativity and you might come up with some of your own ideas. Then you're on your way!
JAEIII
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Thanks for the reply. Wels book, huh? Where can I find this at?
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Eldon
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Tannen's Published the book originally. I think it is still available through them.
JAEIII
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Thanks, I'll have to check that out. Anyone else have any comments/advice/tips? Thanks again!
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m.ruetz
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The Osborne Illusion Systems books (Vols 1-4) are some of the best illusion books and they cover general techniques and construction ideas useful for a beginning builder. I didn't see any language in the books that would limit the rights of the builder to sell their illusions.
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angeloturn
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Where might one find these books?

MAJIC BRAND
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George Ledo
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Quote:
I didn't see any language in the books that would limit the rights of the builder to sell their illusions.


This is an interesting point, so I'm curious as to others might think.

I think it's pretty clear that if I buy a published illusion plan, I'm buying the rights to build it; that's what the plans are for. However, if I buy a plan and have no woodworking experience, can I approach someone else to build it for me? My guess is yes. However, can this builder then go ahead and "market" the illusion, i.e., advertise and sell it?

Let's look at this another way. I receive or buy several woodworking magazines, which are full of plans for bookcases, tables, and so on. The plans are there for us to use. If my neighbor sees one of these magazines on my coffee table and wants me to build him the piece, I have no problem doing so and charging him for time and materials. For all intents and purposes, he could have built it himself from the magazine. However, common sense tells me that the design belongs to the writer and that I should not go around building and selling it in quantity without at least writing him and asking about it.

Any thoughts?
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JAEIII
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You make some excellent points, George. I too am interested in other opinions on that.
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Chance Wolf
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George,
As a professional Builder & Designer myself, I think I can give you a reasonable opinion regarding your last question.
In most cases, when a book is published with Illsion/Prop plans, the Designer/Creator's typical intent is to allow you the rights to build or have built the prop personal use of their design/idea.
That is usually where it stops.
It would not be proper for a builder to begin marketing/manufacturing the effect straight from the book UNLESS he has made a SUBSTANTIAL difference in design AND method. ( this factor will be debated eternally..I think it is best to CALL THE CREATOR and ASK permission and or show your variations to get permission. This usually works fairly easy )
Regarding "Public Domain" plans. The rules still apply in DESIGN ONLY. The designs are the property of the Author as it has been Copywritten and the Designs ARE PROTECTED. The term Design is defined strictly by the visual aspect of the prop and nothing more. Get an artist buddy to redesign the prop's shape, color scheme and little extras and you would be fine.
Hope this helps,
Chance Wolf
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MagicalPirate
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In the case of Byron Wels book 'The Great Illusions of Magic' I don't believe that this would apply as they were old plans that were published so that they would not be lost. However, my hats off to anyone who can build a unit using those plans.

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