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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The International Brotherhood of Magicians! » » Reluctant to post topic. To buy or not to buy that is the question. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

TJs Magic
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I was in class the other night discussing Magician Ethics and some big names came up to discuss the matter. I am just curious to what the majority census is concerning this matter. The question is, is it unethical to buy knock off brand props? Should a person spend $1,200.00 on a prop to buy it from the original creator, for a prop he does not yet know if it is right for him? Or is it O.K. to spend $4or5 hundred on a knock off version to save the money? These dollar amounts are just figuratively speaking.2nd I'm sure everyone in the magic biz knows new material can be very expensive for beginners with magic as a new interest, or for people who perform but not full time. I am personally a contractor and there are some things that are my specialty I do them just a little different than the average Joe, but I don't take it personally when someone else underbids me I think for the most part you get what you pay for. My point is this I personally sometimes buy a cheap version of something to see if it fits my show, if it does and it fits well, when it wears out which doesn't take long I usually invest in the original creators product so that I know I am buying quality. But I have to say I spend more time on a job because I pride myself in the quality but I also manage to stay competitive in price and some props seem very non-competitive in price. It's o.k. to be expensive but not astronomical.
Mike Maturen
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TJ,

I think we walk a fine line in the magical entertainment business. You make some very valid points, and I am curious to see where the discussion leads. I can't speak for anyone else...but only from my own personal experience.

I do not knowingly purchase knock-off products. On the rare occasion when I DID receive a knock-off (most recently it was Daryl's "Presto Printo" that arrived and was an obvious knock-off), I try to contact the originator and make them aware of the knock-off and let them pursue any action.

As another example,I was able to figure out the method for the Gypsy Balloon. I wanted to perform it as the closer to a show I was doing in April. However, since I had not purchased the DVD, I didn't feel it was ethical to do so. I was recently blessed to be able to snag a used copy of the DVD, so I will be able to add it to my show in good conscience.

As an aside, and another point of discussion...what about used magic? Technically, we are not benefitting or supporting the originator when we buy a used trick or DVD or book. So is that ethical? I say yes. What say you?
Mike Maturen
World of Wonder Entertainment
The Magic and Mayhem of Mike Maturen
989-335-1661
mikematuren@gmail.com

AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

member: International Magician's Society
TJs Magic
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Hey Mike a say yes also. Someone bought it from the creator so I think that's O.K. myself. I started with a lot of knock off versions but as the funds became available I replaced them with the good ones. I know when I buy cheap stuff including second hand that sometimes there not very good quality and often use different methods than the original that are not as good, but I've also had a cheap dove tray for two years that worked great looked good from the stage but like I said when the money timing was right I bought a chalet is it better? Yes did it operate differently? yes. The kicker is the probably 10 grand I've got in props now (Trailer, sound equipment, props) 4 years ago I probably had 2 grand in and had basicalley the same props. Everything has just been upgraded hopefully including myself as the entertainer (LOL) because when it comes down to it the magic is truly in the performance not the prop.
Hey check out this similar post I put on new to magic. Some were o.k. but some were just...........? Check out and see.(LOL) appreciate the write in.
wnewhouse
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Personal opinion, here. My perspective is that knock-offs are unethical. It's unethical to make and sell them, and equally unethical to buy them. Whether or not I can afford the original is irrelevant. The fact that I can't afford to buy a Mercedes keeps me from buying one. The fact that I would like to have one does not justify stealing one or buying a stolen one at a price that fits my budget. Even if I promise I will pay full retail price for one later if and when I win the lottery or that rich uncle leaves me some serious cash. (Sounds a bit like, "I'll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today.") Magic effects are no different. The originator of the effect owns it as his/her personal property. If they want to sell it for a high price, or practically give it away, it is entirely their choice, same as if they were selling their car. My wants and my budget are irrelevant. If I have managed to figure out how they did it, I still don't have any right to make copies and sell them. That they already figured it out first is solidly established by the fact that I am examining their effect in the first place. Guessing their secret doesn't give me the right to manufacture and sell it on my own. This is where ethics and law diverge. Ethics says I can't do that. The law says I can if they haven't patented or copyrighted it first. I say, take the moral high ground and go with ethics. As for buying and selling a used effect, that is no different than buying or selling a used car. It was originally purchased fair and square. It is mine now, and I am free to dispose of it. The originator has no right to expect me to keep it forever. However, I am NOT free to make copies (cheap or expensive) of it and sell those. While I bought the effect as a piece of property, I did not buy a license to manufacture the originator's idea to my specs. That's where the boundary lies. We also need to distinguish between effects that are currently the proprietary property of a living originator, and effects that have been known for so long that they no longer carry any proprietary status. For example, if it was published in the Tarbell books, then you can pretty well figure it has lost its original proprietary status and can be considered in the public domain. Just my three cents. Hope it helps clarify the situation for others.
Bill Newhouse
'A reasonably remarkable presenter of extraordinarily mundane miracles.'
Mike Maturen
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Wnewhouse...we are 100% in agreement!
Mike Maturen
World of Wonder Entertainment
The Magic and Mayhem of Mike Maturen
989-335-1661
mikematuren@gmail.com

AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

member: International Magician's Society
wnewhouse
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TJ,
A couple of additional thoughts on your post.

First: I understand why you were reluctant to make the initial post. Let me say that I am glad you went ahead and posted the question. We can't discuss and sort through puzzling questions of ethics unless someone has the courage to bring up the subject in the first place. The discussions are how we develop and clarify our ethical obligations, and learn how to correctly apply the principles to specific situations. Particular situations, such as the one you posited, provide concrete examples that make it much easier to think through a challenge than just wading through a theoretical discussion. If we think you are in error in a particular situation you present, we will try to steer you in the best direction and trust that you will adjust your approach accordingly from that point forward. The fact that you asked the question in the first place tells us that you want to do the right thing. So, thank-you for having the courage to open the discussion. Please continue to do so.

Second: You raise the matter of the cost of some effects can be a barrier to beginners and amateur/part-time performers. That is true. Shucks, it is still a barrier to more established folks who aren't independently wealthy. But here is something to think about along that line. There are literally thousands of effects available at modest cost. Some are purchased complete. Others can be built in your garage at very little cost. A great many effects require almost nothing in the way of materials. They depend on skill or smart routining to deliver a fine effect. For example, the Rice Encyclopedia of Silk Magic can be had on DVD. It contains 2,000+ pages of the original books in a pdf file. The cost of a batch of silks is very modest, and they can be purchased a few at a time until you have a substantial collection. The fact that the routines have been around for a long time does not lessen their effectiveness. An audience of 10 to 12 year old kids will not have seen those old routines, so the effects are NEW TO THEM. And that is what counts most. If you get to thinking that your show has to be heavy on the latest and greatest super cool effects to be good, then I think you may have temporarily lost sight of what makes magic fun and the shows worth doing in the first place. Unless your audiences are mostly other magicians, they won't know that your show doesn't include the latest fad effect. And they won't care. I suggest you focus on what you can afford, work hard on developing specific manual skills to support a variety of good effects, and develop routines that fit your intended audiences. Don't worry about the flashy new stuff. Whenever you can afford it, add one of the catchy new items to your repertoire, but don't obsess about it. I remember when my son was a teenager, he was heavily into playing paintball. One day while riding in the car with me, he was looking through the latest paintball catalogue. After a while, he threw it down on the seat and exclaimed in exasperation, "Too much cool stuff!" Like my young son, we magicians will always suffer from the frustration of too much cool stuff. But that's a good thing because it means there is cool stuff being invented every day. Those of us on a limited budget simply have to be very choosy about which items we do buy. Hope this helps you map your path.
Best regards,
Bill
Bill Newhouse
'A reasonably remarkable presenter of extraordinarily mundane miracles.'
wbzwolinski
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OK...please excuse my being an ignorant idiot...

Can someone please define and or explain to me what exactly and precisely a 'knock off' is?

When exactly is something a 'knock off' and when isn't it?
Keep it Simple...Play it BIG!!!
TJs Magic
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Wbzwolinski, I posted this simply based on a class I was in that was discussing magic ethics anything from performance to buying cheap knock-off props. Anything we buy as Magicians that is not bought from its original creator who came up with the product, is to be considered a knock off. On the other hand if the trick is old enough that it's original creator is no longer alive then to the magic community it is considered public domain for replication. I think??? this is a very deep discussion due to the fact that some creators leave there product for there spouse or children to sale.
Thanks to everyone for there write-ins on this subject.(wnewhouse) appreciate the posts very insightful. I think sometimes what is aggravating is that we can't just find what were looking for in the magic shop or online and buy it. On the other hand I have come to realize as you said trying to be ethical even what I thought I had as a knock was probably not, due to the age of the original product more than likely it would have been public domain for reproduction. I basically have just bought better versions of the props that I had. But all of them have been well made products by at least three companies I consider reputable. I think personally there should be a way to quick copyright magic so that it's not stolen from it's creator.
TJs Magic
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Wbzwolinski, I posted this simply based on a class I was in that was discussing magic ethics anything from performance to buying cheap knock-off props. Anything we buy as Magicians that is not bought from its original creator who came up with the product, is to be considered a knock off. On the other hand if the trick is old enough that it's original creator is no longer alive then to the magic community it is considered public domain for replication. I think??? this is a very deep discussion due to the fact that some creators leave there product for there spouse or children to sale.
Thanks to everyone for there write-ins on this subject.(wnewhouse) appreciate the posts very insightful. I think sometimes what is aggravating is that we can't just find what were looking for in the magic shop or online and buy it. On the other hand I have come to realize as you said trying to be ethical even what I thought I had as a knock was probably not, due to the age of the original product more than likely it would have been public domain for reproduction. I basically have just bought better versions of the props that I had. But all of them have been well made products by at least three companies I consider reputable. I think personally there should be a way to quick copyright magic so that it's not stolen from it's creator.
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On 2013-05-19 19:10, wbzwolinski wrote:
OK...please excuse my being an ignorant idiot...

Can someone please define and or explain to me what exactly and precisely a 'knock off' is?

When exactly is something a 'knock off' and when isn't it?


Hey friend!
There is nothing 'wrong' with being "ignorant". "Ignorance" is "curable"! "Ignorant" basically means that you don't know "something". --It's possible to learn "something", if you are willing to make the effort! --and you've just made the effort!

An "idiot" (from the Greek, I believe)is simply a "non participating one". An "idiot" may be "stupid", but not necessarily. Example: If, as a citizen, you don't vote, you're an idiot.

THE ONLY DUMB QUESTION,IS THE ONE YOU DIDN'T ASK!!! --"Youse" done good!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
wbzwolinski
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Quote:
On 2013-05-21 11:55, Dick Oslund wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-05-19 19:10, wbzwolinski wrote:
OK...please excuse my being an ignorant idiot...

Can someone please define and or explain to me what exactly and precisely a 'knock off' is?

When exactly is something a 'knock off' and when isn't it?


Hey friend!
There is nothing 'wrong' with being "ignorant". "Ignorance" is "curable"! "Ignorant" basically means that you don't know "something". --It's possible to learn "something", if you are willing to make the effort! --and you've just made the effort!

An "idiot" (from the Greek, I believe)is simply a "non participating one". An "idiot" may be "stupid", but not necessarily. Example: If, as a citizen, you don't vote, you're an idiot.

THE ONLY DUMB QUESTION,IS THE ONE YOU DIDN'T ASK!!! --"Youse" done good!


Ha Ha! Thanks Dick, I'll have to let my wife read that because she insists that is what I am.

Wolly
Keep it Simple...Play it BIG!!!
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