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The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ I'm a real boy! Ľ Ľ Vent mask ripped off ? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Dickens & Dave
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Quote:
On 2011-07-20 23:49, Servante wrote:
Give it another twenty years. Smile

-Philip

Heck, we may not finish this thead in twenty years........ Smile
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Servante
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I knoooow. :-D
olivertwist
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I agree with what's been said about not using another vent's jokes. However, if I find that the joke was used by an earlier, deceased vent, before the current "owner" started performing, then I consider the material to be public domain. If it works in my act I will use it in some modified form and I don't feel guilty about it.

I also agree that the mask is a prop, like a figure. If someone claimed the exclusive right to using a figure in a vent act it would be absurd. But a performer's act belongs to him or her and should not be copied (although I see prominent vents do it all the time).

Now if I made a grumpy mouth attached to a microphone...
Howie Diddot
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Quote:
On 2011-07-21 22:54, olivertwist wrote:

If someone claimed the exclusive right to using a figure in a vent act it would be absurd. But a performer's act belongs to him or her and should not be copied (although I see prominent vents do it all the time).



olivertwist;

So is another Vent started using an exact copy of Jeffís Dunhamís Walter, but did an entirely different routine, you donít see any confusion with this?
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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Walter can't really be seen as separable from the act. Walter, Peanut, Jose and Achmed ARE the act. They are very specific characters. The vent mask is different, in my opinion. It's a logical extension of the idea of using an audience volunteer as a puppet. Like the knee figure generally, it has become more ubiquitous and non-specific. So, knee figure; not stealing. Knee figure that happens to look exactly like Walter; stealing. Knee figure that is used with the original material of another contemporary vent, regardless of the character; stealing. I don't see most of this being that gray an area. To me it's simple. I know if I paid for it, I know if it's adapted from classic material made famous by someone who has already died, and I know if I wrote it, and I know if I'm stealing. If I steal, I may or may not get called on it, possibly nobody will ever know. But I would know. My take on the mask... I would use it without guilt. I think the prop is, for all intents and purposes, public domain.
David Pitts
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Howie Diddot
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David I agree with you 100% I think the very same way you think about the info you posted

We are getting away from my original question posted at the beginning of the thread, let me paste it here for comments on why it is that the mask that Ronn made famous is conceded public domain and TOM that Bill made famous is a gimmick that everyone has agrees should be paid to Bill even if you donít follow the routine Bill originated, but still apply the tape over your mouth.


ďEveryone is correct about the law and the copyright issues.

I am not attempting to shape the law here; I am comparing this to the Tape Over The Mouth issue

In a recent thread everyone posted that Billís routine (idea) being copied without paying the fees is a violation of the creative development of his idea; it was also mentioned that that TOM has been used by other Ventís before he perfected it.

Everyone in the thread agreed that the routine and the method of applying tape over a Ventriloquist mouth belonged to Bill and should be respected.

I am very new and have not been involved with many past issues I have learned many things in the ďItís a Boy ForumĒ, like Tomís issue with the snow machine, and the past issues with Walter, Jeff's figure; so this is a learning experience for me.

Can anyone tell me the difference between the Ronn Lucas developing a mask that looks like every other mask I see being used now with very minute changes and Bill Demar having an assistant apply tape over his mouth.

why is Billís developed idea supported and payment required so as not to be ridiculed, and Ronnís idea of a manufactured and highly publicized mask rejected as an original routine to be performed without payment to the creator of the routine?

I am not accusing anyone here of any wrong doings, the issue has been brought up in this thread and I am only asking for clarification."
Dickens & Dave
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Okay, here's some stuff that enters into these topics that no one is going to say, but I personally believe are valid factors, a lot of it having to do with personalities, perception, and practices as much, if not more than, legalities and ethics. Some may disagree, that's fine, it's just my opinion.

First the Jeff Dunham/Bill Nelson/Walter issue;
Now the first thing that many have alluded to is the fact that it's a old man character - which has probably been or become as standard as a slow/goof character. So as some have said, how can anyone say Walter is a ripoff of someone else's figure. (And really, what about all the Walter look-a-likes since Jeff's popularity with Walter - I know I've seen a LOT of figures that look very similar to Walter since - seems Jeff has more to complain about now than Nelson did before).

But here is the more important factors;
Jeff became the vent community's 'golden child'.
A minor aspect was Jeff starting at a young age, attending Vent Haven every year, going on to fame and fortune, and he still attends the convention every year, still hob-nobbing and friendly with the rest of the vent community, the struggling, the newbies, etc. While no one may consciously think about it, that definitely puts someone in his position in a good place in the hearts and minds of everyone else in the community.

But more importantly than that is the fame he's attained as a vent. He was the first vent in a long time, and for a long time, that people saw on TV fairly regularly. The last was Jay Johnson on "Soap" - and really, that wasn't a good portrayal of a ventriloquist, it really bowed to the old stereotype of a vent being 'not quite right'. And Terry Fator is a relatively recent addition, but there was a long period there where Jeff was THE one really out there, nationally known.
Yes there are many others out there making a decent living with vent, there are those like Jay Johnson and Ronn Lucas making a VERY good living with it - but how many non-vent people know the names of their characters?
But everyone knows Walter, and Peanut, etc. Many non-vent people I talk to don't even remember Jeff's name, but they know his characters. Jeff, for a long period, was the one out there in the national public eye, keeping vent out there, and positively too, with great technique and material, and consequently popularity, which of course was great for the rest of vent community.
I've never seen the figure that Jeff was supposed to have "copied", but I'll bet now, someone could post a picture of that figure and Walter side-by-side, and even if they looked exactly alike, no one would condemn Jeff at all.
And on the other side of the issue, no one thinks badly of Bill Nelson for having made his claim partly because no one has any issues with him otherwise, he's well known in the community, and he didn't pursue it and dog the issue. It's barely been the 'issue' the mask has been which I believe is due to all those factors in regards to Jeff and Bill.

Now the TOM/Mask thing, which Buzz basically wants to know why one's 'rights' are respected (DeMar's TOM) and the other's isn't (Lucas' mask).
Personally, I see a big factor in this has to do with personalities.
Bill DeMar has been (and is) a long respected member of the community. Not only has he protected the TOM routine legally, but the routine is considered his, and no one would dare do it, especially around other vents without having clear license, any more than they would consider getting a frog puppet and doing the same wordless act Bill does with his. I've no doubt there are some who have seen the TOM routine, figured out and copied it, without license, but you won't hear from them here, especially with what's been posted about it.

Then there is the mask thing.
Many have defended everyone's right to use it because it is a prop, not a routine, even comparing it to a vent figure.
Okay, let's go with that. So if someone starts producing and selling, and everyone's using a non Axtell Magic Drawing Board - will they be wrong? Never mind the legalities, I'm sure Steve has that well protected, but forget that for now - it's a prop. Using that "it's a prop" argument, there should be no problem with everyone making them and selling them, and vents using them, like they do masks.
(And I give very little validity to claims made by others that they developed the mask prop before Lucas as most of the 'claims' came about long after.)
And I'm sure we could come up with many other "prop" examples. No - IMHO, I think the mask 'issue' hinges on two other factors;

1). Personalities.
Col. Bill Boley was the first and most known for making and selling vent masks.
Bill was probably one of, if not, THE most loved and respected people that ever graced the vent community, and those who knew him can easily say, rightfully so.
Now enter this big, wealthy, Vegas entertainer swooping in and picking on Bill, threatening him with litigation over producing the mask, and that happening while this so loved person was facing personal health issues.
Who is bound to be considered the "bad guy"?
Who are people going to naturally, instinctively, feel compassion and sympathy for and side with? Is it going to be the big, wealthy entertainer, or that well loved by everybody guy?
The answer is obvious.

The other factor is;
2). the popularity of the mask.
Everybody is using the mask - okay, I know that's an exaggeration, not 'everybody', just seems like it sometimes - but it is almost like everyone has to have and do a mask routine. It became popular from the start, and now here was this guy threatening to take it away, saying no one else can use it.
But everyone wants to use it, everyone thinks it is just the greatest addition to their act, they don't want it taken away. They aren't going to let it be taken away. They will defend their right to use it, coming up with justifiable reasons why it is totally okay for them to use it.
Some can claim it isn't so, but anyone being honest about it knows it is.

There's my take on it. It may sound like I'm defending Ronn Lucas' position - and I'm not. I just have always perceived that Lucas was generally considered the "bad guy", apparently that's his own perception as well, hence the letter that Buzz linked to.
Personally, I don't really have a side, I don't use a mask, but that's not due to an ethical belief, or legality concern, I had a Boley mask and sold it along with my MDB simply because everyone was using them, they weren't 'fresh' any more.
No, I'm just saying what I personally believe (notice I said "personally believe") what I think the real issues are.

Or as some say...."I'm just saying......"
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"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Steve at The Dummy Shoppe
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Thanks Blueshawk,

Understanding the law is fundamental, but I totally agree with your take. Anyone watching last week can see the difference in the human factors that you alude to so elequently.

Yes, Jay was there. No one disrespected him because he has notoriety in the community. Everyone was friendly to him, but. . .

Bill DeMar was also there. Watch the difference in people interaction. Bill is everyones "Uncle". Ten to One more people walked up to Bill and hugged him with genuine affection. Bill financially does not have much at this stage of his life. He gave his life for the cause of vent. To "steal" from him, by not paying his small tribute at this phase of his life would be like taking the food tray away from your own mother in a nursing home.

It just goes beyond the law. It is from the heart.

Steve

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Servante
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Fred Russell just called. He's suing all of you for using a single figure...especially those of you who perch yours on your knee. You're in trouble now.

-Philip
Dickens & Dave
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I stand and hold mine, so who's going to sue me?
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
tacrowl
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Quote:
On 2011-07-22 01:20, Howie Diddot wrote:
Can anyone tell me the difference between the Ronn Lucas developing a mask that looks like every other mask I see being used now with very minute changes and Bill Demar having an assistant apply tape over his mouth.

why is Billís developed idea supported and payment required so as not to be ridiculed, and Ronnís idea of a manufactured and highly publicized mask rejected as an original routine to be performed without payment to the creator of the routine?

I am only asking for clarification."


Buzz - It isn't rocket science and while the personality theory may have some merit, as I see it, it comes down to this...

First, Ronn didn't invent OR develop the mask. He made it popular. Its no different than Paul Zerdin's mask routine getting millions of hits on Youtube and people thinking he's the guy everyone is copying. Ronn's mask is NOT like Wanlu's, or Lou's or Paige's or Boley's. They use different mechnaics and look different - the only thing in common is they are a jaw mask.

Bill Boley's mask, like Paige Parnell's mask, used a pull string. Ronn threatened Bill - but not Paige. Why? She can handle her own legal defense, so he can't scare her. Ronn has no legal rights to the mask prop - only to his performance/routine. If he did have a claim, don't you think someone would have been sued by now?

The mask is a prop just like a knee figure. Just like a wand. NOT like a custom character of Jeff's. It's a piece of costuming. You dress kids in a costume during your show - do you pay anyone for permission? You aren't the first to do it. But no - because it is your routine and the costume is just a prop.

So why don't people respect Ronn's rights? He didn't invent the mask - and doesn't claim he did. He popularized it. He only has rights to his routine. He doesn't offer rights to his routine. But he DOESN'T OWN the mask concept.

With Bill's TOM - Bob Baker already answered you:
Quote:
On 2011-07-21 14:28, Bob Baker wrote:
Bill's routine involves completely taping over the mouth with 4 pieces of tape. It looks very different from Jay's taping and indeed is used in a different sort of routine. I happened to discuss the two routines with Bill at the recent ConVENTion, and he considers his own routine to be very different from Jay's.


Bill invented and introduced his version of TOM to the vent world. It is his routine and method. You want to use his version - multiple strips and method, pay the man. You want to do the single strip - contact Jay and get the details. It may pre-date his usage. He'll probably know...

Tom
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olivertwist
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Howie,

I said "figure" as in "using a figure as a prop". I didn't say character. Walter is Jeff Dunham's character. No one should steal or copy his character. Similarly, no one should copy Ron Lucas' mask routine or his particular style of mask.
tacrowl
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Quote:
On 2011-07-22 07:35, blueshawk1 wrote:
Then there is the mask thing.
Many have defended everyone's right to use it because it is a prop, not a routine, even comparing it to a vent figure.
Okay, let's go with that. So if someone starts producing and selling, and everyone's using a non Axtell Magic Drawing Board - will they be wrong?


Difference - Steve Axtell INVENTED the Drawing Board. Ronn DIDN'T invent the mask. Joel Hodgson created the version Ronn used.

Quote:
On 2011-07-22 09:45, Steve at The Dummy Shoppe wrote:
Yes, Jay was there. No one disrespected him because he has notoriety in the community. Everyone was friendly to him, but. . .

Bill DeMar was also there. Watch the difference in people interaction. Bill is everyones "Uncle". Ten to One more people walked up to Bill and hugged him with genuine affection.


Bill has been at the convention for years - he's one of the family. Jay is extremely friendly as well, but commands a different respect in the community. You don't see people hugging Jeff either...
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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Bob Baker
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Great discussion. I think both Tom and Blueshawk1 have made excellent, valid points. (Not to disparage you other guys, but they nailed it.)

Bpb
Servante
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I feel so disparaged. Smile

-Philip
Howie Diddot
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Quote:
On 2011-07-22 11:10, tacrowl wrote:

Difference - Steve Axtell INVENTED the Drawing Board. Ronn DIDN'T invent the mask. Joel Hodgson created the version Ronn used.




I have read that Ronn Lucas paid the inventor Joel Hodgson for the rights to use the mask; it must have included the complete rights because Ronn has also made a business agreement with Terry Fator to use it in Vegas.

No different than when Wanlu was paid for the rights to use the yellow duck in the USA. The rights were purchased from the inventor and should not be copied or used in the USA
Servante
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Oh, but it IS different. Wanlu could reasonably have copyrighted the APPEARANCE of the duck (and, actually, once a thing is created it already has a common-law copyright). Wanlu hasn't promised to stop making ducks...only THAT YELLOW duck (I own one, incidentally Smile ).
JOel could easily have copyrighted the APPEARANCE of his mask, and, of course, it actually is CLC...or he could have easily patented (though patents aren't easy...and he would have to show that his was somehow different and new) the mechanics of his mask.
As for Ronn paying Joel...that's a precautionary measure more than a legal necessity. Same with Terry paying Ronn.

Isn't this fun?

-Philip
Howie Diddot
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Philip;

I donít believe Ronn paid Joel as a precaution, I believe Ronn paid for the rights to use the mask in his routine,

Terry may have thought he was doing the right thing by paying Ronn, or may have paid as a precaution, we donít know.

Tomís post pointed out that Ronn did not invent the masks, but Ronn paid for the rights and now I just found out that Joel Hodgson was the inventor, why hasnít Joel been paid by anyone else using a mask?
Servante
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Because he's an extra step away from the fray, maybe.
And he's mainly a producer and a writer and (to an extent)a puppeteer.
And a hilarious movie critic...but he hasn't done much of that lately.

If you're a big shot, like Ronn Lucas or Terry Fator, it's usually a good idea to pay folks, even if they might not be able to win in court. Stops a lot of hassle later...and, yes, it seems the right thing to do if there is a popular notion that a person invented or originated a thing.

-Philip
Howie Diddot
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Quote:
On 2011-07-22 13:25, Servante wrote:
Because he's an extra step away from the fray, maybe.
And he's mainly a producer and a writer and (to an extent)a puppeteer.
And a hilarious movie critic...but he hasn't done much of that lately.

If you're a big shot, like Ronn Lucas or Terry Fator, it's usually a good idea to pay folks, even if they might not be able to win in court. Stops a lot of hassle later...and, yes, it seems the right thing to do if there is a popular notion that a person invented or originated a thing.

-Philip


Who is "HE" we are discussing Ronn, Terry ans Joel, and I don't know enough to know who the "producer and a writer and (to an extent)a puppeteer" would be
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