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magicman491
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Is it okay to use someone elses routine or is it "bad" like stealing it?
Mike Maturen
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If it is published, and you purchased it, it is generally assumed that performance rights come with that purchase. It is NOT okay to use a performer's original routine otherwise, unless you have their permission to do so.

As an example, I fell in love with the routine that Kiki Tay uses for his snowstorm. I wrote and asked his permission to use it, which he granted. In that case, I can use it. Had I NOT asked, it would be considered unethical.
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Lawrence O
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Most of us think that a routine is original with whoever we saw it performed... is it actually?
Dai Vernon C&Bs routine was integrally (except for the Mora wand spin) published in 1900 in French under the pen of Jean Caroly

So before you ask yourself the problem, make sure that the routine you wish to and will need to adapt to your personality is original with whoever was the first magician that you saw performing it...

By personal experience and extensive research, virtually no routines have their originator still alive. Now for the presentation, it's another question: should you reproduce someone else's routine which doesn't reflect your personality? I would not recommand it because, apart from any ethical aspect, it's generally a catastrophy in entertainment terms. Try telling a joke as seen from your favorite stand up comedian... and see if you get the same success as he did.
Magic is the art of proving impossible things in parallel dimensions that can't be reached
Michael_MacDonald
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The problem with using someone else's material is that he most likely is using it from someone else. now consider if you were side by side how would you be considered unique? what sets you apart from the guy next to you?

I just saw a post by david that he had this experience and he changed his out look on this because if your all doing the same thing then its not about you its about getting the lower price considering you have nothing original. the fact that your trying to be someone your not aside here.

if you like a routine first off find out whose it really is, second, tear it apart and rework it from the floor up stripping away the bits and bobs and adding your own touch. your own style. your own personality.

what your aiming at here is that if you and the guy next to you are doing the same routine the people watching should not even recognize it as the same.

just my personal take on it good luck brother and stay true to you.

Michael
1KJ
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Well said Michael, getting inspiration from one routine and adapting it to be your own makes good sense.
Bill Palmer
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In his introduction to <i>Paramiracles</i>, Ted Lesley said that using someone else's material is much like putting on someone else's clothes. It is very unlikely that it will fit you as well as it fits him.

Modify, improve, adapt, tailor the material so that it IS your own. Do not assume that because you have heard a line from several different magicians that it is a stock line. Someone wrote that line a long time ago. If you hear a line you like, ask the fellow who uses it for permission to use it. If he wrote it, he will tell you. If he didn't, he may act embarrassed.

If you can't come up with your own way to perform a routine, keep practicing it. New ideas will come to you. You really don't want to be like everyone else, do you?

One example of this is the Vernon cups and balls routine. Gazzo's routine is an adaptation/modification if it. But it's a darn good version of that routine. Cellini's routine was an adaptation of this as well. Each of these versions reflects the personality and talent of the performer.

In a way it's like performing classical piano music. "Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto" is a masterpiece. But each real artist who performs it gives it his/her own distinctive "flavor."
"The Swatter"

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Dick Oslund
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All of the above contributors have given you exceptionally good advice!

So! Your really don't need MORE! (I hope!) However, I just can't resist contributing a few thoughts, too.

About 1975, Karrell Fox developed a very simple, fun, (& COMMERCIAL) LINKING RING ROUTINE. I was doing a good 5 ring routine that I had developed myself. It was strong enough to CLOSE the high school program. But, it used 5 HEAVY 10" Merv Taylor rings. Karrell's routine used 3 much lighter weight rings. I was staying with him for a week (playing a mall in Detroit)and we talked about his routine. We were close enough friends that I asked him if I could use his. He said, "Of course! We don't conflict! --you're welcome to it!"

I used HIS basic premise, BUT, I developed MY own lines. I've used the routine ever SINCE! When Karrell died, I inherited his rings.

I never like the hokey, and horribly old fashioned "standard" MUTILATED PARASOL routine. In 1992, I repeated a tour of Montana after only 2 years. It was necessary to replace several of the 'big' feature effects. I decided on the parasol. Old pal Don Lawton had passed away. I had a VHS of his act at the Castle. His parasol routine was DIFFERENT AND FUN. I loved the premise, but his gags and lines were definitely not my style. I deleted the "purse" and used a "tote bag" style of change bag. Since it was to be used in elementary schools, I developed a "show and tell" and retained his premise. It's a SHOW STOP LAUGH!.

I've been doing the MISERS DREAM since 1946. Stuart Ross, my mentor at the time, showed me the original TARBELL routine (with the safety pin gimmicks!) I was 14. I used it as learned for several years. Slowly, as I discovered my own personality, the current routine evolved. It runs a very strong 5 minutes, uses ANY old pail (or tin can) involves from a half dozen to 15 kids, uses no droppers, never needs "resetting", and STOPS THE SHOW! I can't follow it for elementary age kids. It is MINE! but it took YEARS to develop.

So!!! READ! (Tarbell, Fitzkee, Ken Weber et al. LEARN the FUNDAMENTALS! Find a qualified MENTOR! THINK! EXPERIMENT! PRACTICE! REHEARSE! --AND PERFORM!
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jcrabtree2007
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Great Stories- Great Advise.
I love this place.
theconjuror
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Quote:
On 2012-12-06 01:47, Michael_MacDonald wrote:
The problem with using someone else's material is that he most likely is using it from someone else. now consider if you were side by side how would you be considered unique? what sets you apart from the guy next to you?

I just saw a post by david that he had this experience and he changed his out look on this because if your all doing the same thing then its not about you its about getting the lower price considering you have nothing original. the fact that your trying to be someone your not aside here.

if you like a routine first off find out whose it really is, second, tear it apart and rework it from the floor up stripping away the bits and bobs and adding your own touch. your own style. your own personality.

what your aiming at here is that if you and the guy next to you are doing the same routine the people watching should not even recognize it as the same.

just my personal take on it good luck brother and stay true to you.

Michael


Well Said Michael! I rememebr when I was younger I took a routine from someone else because I liked so much. I ended up droppign it because the feel wasn't right for me. I had only performed it a few times though..
motown
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Think about how musician's interpret other peoples material.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
– Karl Germain
Anatole
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Something that has happened in fairly recent times is the practice of imposing a restriction on "performing rights" when marketing a trick or publishing a book with magic routines in it. If you think back to all the great magic books of the past (e.g. _Our Magic_, _Greater Magic_, _Routined Manipulations_, _Inner Secrets of Card Magic_) and recent present (e.g. _Roy Benson by Starlight_, _The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley_, _The Vernon Chronicles_, etc), unless I missed something, I don't recall any of them stating that there were performing restrictions on any of the effects/routines within their pages.

Can you imagine the impact that performing restrictions would have had on the present if, back when the "Counting Four as Four/Ghost Count" was introduced, Alex Elmsley had imposed performing rights restrictions on the sleight??? And what if Ardo the Frogman had imposed performing rights restrictions on the backpalm, or if Vernon had imposed performing rights restrictions on the moves from "Symphony of the Rings," or if DeKolta had imposed performing rights restrictions on the "Vanishing Bird Cage," or if Pressley Guitar had imposed performing rights restrictions on "The Cigarette Through Quarter," or Walter Gibson with "Nickels to Dimes," or Frank Ducrot with "Twentieth Century Silks" and "Blendo," or Bob Carver/Paul Young with "Professor's Nightmare" or Joe Karson with "Zombie," or Burling Hull with the "Svengali Deck"...

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
wwhokie1
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[quote]On 2013-05-11 01:23, Bill Palmer wrote:
In his introduction to Paramiracles, Ted Lesley said that using someone else's material is much like putting on someone else's clothes. It is very unlikely that it will fit you as well as it fits him.



Great point, Even if you have permission, and use the same basic outline of the routine, it still will need some alteration to make it fit you.
vinh.giang
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This is such a great thread!
"Rather a mind opened by wonder, than one closed by belief."
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MRSharpe
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Other performing artists have the same problem. Musicians for example. If they are covering another musician's material, even with permission, and they appear at an event with the originator then there goes part of their show. I worked with a Native American drum group who had been given songs by other groups. Whenever we did an event with one of the groups then there went a certain portion of our songs. The other issue is trying to copy someone else's jokes, patter, or other aspect of a routine is virtually impossible because it doesn't fit your character. If you don't think you are using a character because you are just "being yourself" this still matters, because your personality does not match someone else's stage persona. And think about it, if we all did the same routines what would be the point? Whether or not an effect is sold with patter included is not the issue either. It might be OK to employ the same story line and other aspects of another performer's routine, but if you make it your own then the two will not match anyway.
Custom Props Designer and Fabricator as well as Performer from Indiana, USA
Darkness
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Great thread and advise!

There is a great book called "The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus" (veteran hollywood comedy writer). He discusses how to find your own voice and character (he maintains you can learn to be funny even if you are not and it's true). Helps enable you to build routines of your own (mostly how to develop your comedy chops). In turn understanding the methods on how to get there, so you are not dependant on other people's material you will draw on what fits for you.

Building routines comes from knowing who you are and what you are trying to achieve just as Bill and Lawrence already know and have shared.

Get the book you won't be sorry if you have any comedy in your act.
MRSharpe
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Short answer: the word 'stealing' is part of your question. Answer based on an analogy: Is it OK to drive off in somebody else's car, or it it "bad" like stealing it? Long answer: Routines are technically intellectual property. The fall under copyright law, even if a copyright has not been filed. A copyright is good for the life of the original creator plus seventy five years. Copying someone else's routine without permission is stealing. If you believe that stealing is wrong then is is "bad" like stealing it because it IS stealing it.
Custom Props Designer and Fabricator as well as Performer from Indiana, USA
paulapaul
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Plagiarize, plagiarize.
I see it happening before my eyes.
The Whats, the Wheres, the Whos, The Whys,
Every angle, every prize,
Try them on, just for size.
Use them once, and surmise
That borrowed words are not lies.
No, my friend, I say Plagiarize.
Just call it …
Research.

Hahaahahahahaahaha.
Smile Smile Smile
Anatole
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I think it was Wilson Mizner who said "If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism. If you steal from many, it's research."

Many great magicians have included in their acts routines that they learned from books that were written well before the concept of "performing rights" was invented. Del Ray, for instance, included "The Gymnastic Aces" from _The Card Magic of LePaul_ in his close-up act. And what if Joe Karson had imposed "performing rights" on Zombie? Or if Alex Elmsley had imposed performing rights on "Counting Four as Four?" Or if Burling Hull had imposed performing rights on the Svengali Deck? Or Frank Ducrot had imposed performing rights on "20th Century Silks"? Or Professor Herwin had restricted use of the Thumb Tip? Or if Bob Carver had imposed performing rights on "The Professor's Nightmare?"

Technically, I think one could argue that Joe Karson _did_ impose manufacturing rights on Zombie since he patented the trick. But that didn't seem to stop any number of magic manufacturers from making their own zombie balls.

----- Sonny
----- Sonny Narvaez
Willjhenderson
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This thread is so fascinating. With every illusion that I perform, I work on a unique script that fits my character. I have yet to find anybody with the same routines I use for my show. Sure, people may have done the same tricks that I do, but nobody does it the same way I do. If I do find somebody using my same routine, what should I do? Should I contact them and ask them to stop using it?

During my brainstorming session on how to use the duct tape blindfold in my act, a mentor of mine was performing it in his act. I told him about the idea and he said "If you copy me, I will stop helping you. You can use my performance as inspiration only." I didn't copy him and created a entire story that is only unique to my show.

That piece of advice has helped me develop my own stories, my own routines, and my own character. I do look at other magician's routines for inspiration but I always make it my own by adding my twist to it.
Will Henderson
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Writer. Storyteller. Artist. Comedian.
www.illusionistwillhenderson.com
wizardpa
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One of the things I like best about a new illusion or trick is making it my own. For some weird reason, some of my best ideas come while I lay in bed trying to sleep. I post some of my performances on youtube.
This being said; I actually have no problem if someone wants to copy a routine I do.
The way I look at it, is that if someone in another part of the country wants to copy my entire show, I don't care.
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