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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Let there be magic! » » Ethics versus ownership rights (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

espmagic
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First, I am sorry to repeat-post this, but I wanted a wide variety of replies...

The situation: Magician "A" sees an advertisement for a trick, or a presentation, and, without buying the trick, invents his own version of it, which (co-incidentally) is *significantly* less expensive than the marketed version while doing the same effect of the marketed version. What are the ethics and responsibilities of this? Please include comments and observations regarding sales, gifts-to-friends, etc.

Second scenario: Using a home computer I designed a presentation for an age-old effect that we are *all* familiar with; I sent a few test versions of it to those better versed with knowledge, and found out that my "new" version was actually used back in the '30's or '40's.

Question: What length of time is attached to "royalty rights", since my version is not currently being marketed?

Thanks for your help and input!
Marduke Kurios
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Hi Lee,

If someone sees a trick advertised, and proceeds to build it, then he isn't 'inventing' it himself. If he sells it to others he would be infringing on the manufacturing rights of the inventor. He may be setting himself up for a lawsuit if the originator chooses to push the issue.

As far as creating a presentation for an effect, the creator of the presentation would have a copyright on his presentation only. The inventor of the trick or prop itself has full rights to his invention.

On Copyrights:

"The term for which copyright shall subsist shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, be the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year." (CDN Copyright Act)

I believe American Copyright Law is similar in effect.

Ethics can be a touchy subject. I think the creator of an effect deserves full recognition AND compensation for their invention. If we choose to build our own 'improved' version of it AFTER we have purchased one for ourselves, go for it (this applies to building it for ourselves and not for sale).

I recommend visiting your Government's (on-line) Database on Copyright, Patent, and Trademark Law for full information.

Without Prejudice.
Live well,
Laugh often,
Love always.

To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.

Without Prejudice, All Rights Reserved.
Andy Leviss
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Legally, you have no obligation to the original creator, since the effect doesn't fall under copyright except in a very limited sense, and the workings are not protected (except occasionally by a patent, and usually then only on extremely mechanical tricks or illusions). That said, legality doesn't really matter here, ethics do.

Ethically, I feel that you're obligated to contact the originator and get his/her permission to release your version of the effect, with appropriate credit to the original inspiration. Most people in magic are really nice and will say yes, if not, than just know that you have a better handling, and keep it to yourself.

--Andy
Note: I have PMs turned off; if you want to reach me, please e-mail [email]Andy.MagicCafe@DucksEcho.com[/email]!
DavidKenney
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Wow – here is where a “pile” of gray areas emerge…..sadly there are a million “what ifs”

For example – I purchased the Jay Sankey, David Acer compilation of “Cross Roads” in it there is an effect that is EXACTLY like 2 marketed effects AND a classic of Magic found in a Mark Wilson book, I asked Jay…”Hey man, what’s up with this?”

To which he replied – he didn’t know the other effects existed, but he was not surprised – and commented that this often happens when inventing – you end up inventing something that is already “invented.” But technically, as similar as the effects are…he did invent his own version of it.

Now, what if I saw a rising card trick for 50 bucks and I thought to myself, Hey – I want to make a rising card trick myself – so I do. My card rises out of the deck just like the 50 dollar one. I have no idea how the 50 dollar effect works, nor do I care…did I steal this trick or idea? That’s like saying my neighbor painted his house blue and added an extension to his drive way – I liked it so much, I did the same. Can my neighbor sue me for stealing his idea?

As my computer science teacher says…it all depends.

What if you invented a card trick – solely your own. But the effect just requires a standard deck? Well, then sonny Jim, all you did was invent a routine – you didn’t invent the entire effect, right? Not unless every sleight in it – is your original creation. You can’t patent a double lift, a false shuffle and an elmsley count because none of those moves belong to you. If I see you do that trick, and I instantly figure it out – do I now have to pay you for the performance rights? Hardly. The proper thing might be for me to ask your permission, but I certainly have no legal obligations toward you. You just assembled a series of movements that existed before you began. If you paint a flower, and I paint a flower – the subtle differences in style and technique will show through in our artistic expression, but I have no legal or moral obligation to ask your permission to paint a flower. Even if it was the same EXACT flower in the same EXACT garden.

..but then again, it all depends.

What if your card trick required a standard gaff – like a double facer or double backer and I emulate the effect using the same gaff? Same thing – you didn’t invent that gaff either. So, who is to say that I can’t use that utility the same way that you do.

..but then again, it all depends.

If you created something that never existed, we’ll say Mark Mason’s famous “Blink” card. You can certainly scream and holler and call the feds on me – if I recreate that same gaff (invention of yours) If I try to emulate it and market it. Heck, if I print the “how to make your own” on a forum somewhere and you can prove that my post cost you loss of wages – you could probably even sue me.

..but like we said, it all depends.

Invention and copy write and forgery and plagiarism – are sometimes hard to call, even in court. Let’s take your example:

The situation: Magician "A" sees an advertisement for a trick, or a presentation, and, without buying the trick, invents his own version of it, which (co-incidentally) is *significantly* less expensive than the marketed version while doing the same effect of the marketed version. What are the ethics and responsibilities of this?

Your key word was “invents his own version” How many four ace routines are on the market, or three card monte’s? How many floating card devices are there or torn and restored card tricks – tons! You think each one of those people went around and asked every creator’s permission before they marketed their effect – hardly.

I am not saying that people should steal, or invent their own sold in stores gaffs, or that they should build their own supplies, on the contrary. I think if you love magic and you love the creator’s of magic, then you should support the art that you love with your finances.

But I also feel we should be very careful about screaming “thief” before we know everything.

Shakespeare said it best – “There is nothing new under the sun.” I give Jay Sankey props for inventing his trick, I was once told that I stole Vernon’s color changing deck idea and I had never even seen Vernon’s effect!

The ethics behind the intent is what it all “depends upon” if your intent is to steal, or to undermine, or to rip someone off, or to not give credit when you know credit is due, then of course – your ethic is bad.

Everything on this earth has inherit ethics in it – it’s up to you to decide which side of that ethic you fall upon.

Hope that helps,
Joe Marotta
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Quote:
David Kenney said, "Shakespeare said it best – “There is nothing new under the sun.”


King Solomon was the first to say those words, back in the 10th century B.C.. They are recorded in his writings: the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 1, verse 9, (in the Bible), "and there is nothing new under the sun" (NKJV translation).

Shakespeare didn't need permission because it certainly was 50 years past the King's death...
DavidKenney
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Joe - you are so right, but half the time I quote the bible the thread turns into a religious discussion . . . being a youth minister its easy to shift gears and stand on my soap box.
x-treem
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I've been studying up on American copyright law. The copyright is valid until exactly 70 years, to the day, after the copyright holder is deceased.
A direct from text adaptation : The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Starring Mickey Rooney in his final role.
DougTait
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If I build my version of the Square Circle in my workshop with special decoration, color, texture shape etc. that would appeal only to Gospel magicians and sell it, am I violating any ethical standard? What about a special designed Lotta Bowl.

Isn't there some sort of accepted magic Public Domain where effects that have no traceable originator are open for manufacture? If I were to manufacture and sell a set of linking rings made from hula hoops I think I would be infringing on Dick Zimmerman's routine which he markets, but Mr. Zimmerman certainly didn't invent the principle of linking circles.

I enjoy manufacturing a lot of my own effects for my personal use. I have made and given away a few of these to friends, but I would like to be able to sell them just to recoup my expenses, but have been reluctant to do so to avoid the appearance of an ethics violation. I have been advised very strongly, for and against doing so by several magicians friends.

What is the consensus? Are there effects out there that are considered Public Domain?
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing."
x-treem
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My own thoughts, Doug, would be that there are "public domain" effects. Your excellent example fits right into that catagory (SC and lotta bowl). The linking hoops however is another story.

Though Zimmerman makes and sells them you may want to find out if he got permission to do so or how he came about in the decision to market them.

There are many time honored illusions that have falled into domain due to the age of the copyright so if it does not have a patent or copyright I see little to know reason not to go for it.

I'd buy if it was a Christian design so drop my a PM when you have something.

X
A direct from text adaptation : The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Starring Mickey Rooney in his final role.
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