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Hypothetical Situation: You have just created a variation on say, Paul Curry's Out of This World. You wish to publish it. I assume we all agree that Mr. Curry should be credited for the original effect. But now, let's say that in order to explain your "improvement" you must discuss the workings of the original effect. Do you think that's ethical/legal?

One might almost argue that Out of this World is practically in the public domain at this point (NOT AGREEING THIS IS A GOOD THING, MERELY AN OBSERVATION). So how about a more recent effect, say, Just Passin Thru. Apply the above scenario to that effect. What are the ethics here?

New situation: suppose I create an entirely different method of achieving an effect that is the same as someone else's. Let's further suppose the effect is not a classic, but original with a given performer. Do you need to credit that performer? Can you even publish the effect and your new method at all?

I am not naive about business, and I know that all kinds of situations will and do happen. I'm just trying to get a sense of what the general consensus is (if there is one) of where the boundaries lie in situations like these.

Jack Shalom
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Ethics are a touchy subject, but let me give it a shot.

In your first hypothetical situation, I have come up with a variation or improvement upon an effect created by somebody else (or at least owned by the estate of somebody else). Do I publish it? That depends on how large the improvement/variation is. If it's just a small nuance, no. If it's substantial (I know, it's a subjective term), then maybe -- but I would still feel the need to receive permission from the original creator, especially if his effect is still being marketed.

Second hypothetical situation: I've come up with a new method for an effect that isn't a classic, but clearly originated by another performer. Do I publish it? Well, if it's his signature effect (and in this case, it sounds like it is), I wouldn't without the performer's permission. Yes, I know the method is different, but the impact on an audience is the same, and I wouldn't want to be guilty of taking the uniqueness of his signature effect away. Now, if he says it's okay, that's a whole different ballgame: in that case, I'd publish it, and I'd be certain to give him credit and a big thank you. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Overall, I think the golden rule is to ask permission. It isn't as if any of us has a huge chunk of money to gain on any marketed effect. The margins aren't that large, and neither is the market. So we may as well treat each other well.

What do you think?
Creator of The Xpert (20 PAGES of reviews!) and the Hands-Off Multiple ESP System ("Quality and design far exceed any ESP cards on the market"-Genii), and contributor to the ebook GOLD: When It HAS To Be Performance GOLD -- all at Penguin.
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Thanks for your comments, Neil.

Jonathan Townsend
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For some reason, at least two people have published versions of somthing original and personal to me. The original remains unpublished, though some parts have been reconstructed and some of the moves have been reinvented over the last twenty years.

I have mixed feelings about the whole matter.

I am flattered anyone would want to do something of mine.

I am also not so happy that my ideas and approach which are implicit in the very nature of the routine have been made public.

I suggest you discuss your desire to copy a work with the originator and take your cue from them. Some people may be honored, others horrified. all the coins I've dropped here
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