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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Shuffled not Stirred » » Stacks, MemDecks and Fair Use: A question. (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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tom_stamm
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Before I start, I will say I am a Aronson guy. I use and perform with the Aronson stack. As a software developer I wrote my own stack trainer, that is database driven (not only sequence, but also metadata like sources and publication dates, etc). It is unpublished for reasons stated later.

That said, I collect stacks and memdecks, because that is what I collect. Over the years I have acquired about 160 stacks. I am really reluctant to share this collection because I have questions about Intellectual Property (IP) and ethics. A lot of the stack I have collected are from books, most I have found are on the english language internet. I have gotten a couple from french and spanish language sites, but the majority of stacks I have can be found on the English language internet.

SO HERE ARE MY QUESTIONS:
Given that a stack is typically just a (discoverable) combination of 52 cards usually, What is protected by IP? What is protected by the magic community ethics? What is allowed by "Fair use"?

Obviously the words and thoughts in a book, ebook, are protected by copyright, but is the "sequence of cards" also protected? For example a memdeck book pushed a stack this year (2017), months later that stack is available on the internet in a publicly available memdeck trainer. This bothers me (maybe I'm just a old guy...).

Obviously old stack like Si Stebbins are available and safe to publish (in the public domain). And Simon Aronson publish a free PDF with his stack, but where is it legal or ethical to publish or share any stack sequence not specificly developed by oneself?

Regarding memdeck trainers:
These are useful tools, but the way software is generally distributed today. They are publicly available. Do the authors need to get the stack creator's permission to use the stack sequence? I'm not talking about the mathmatical rules or Mnemonics like "For Seven Tons of the King's Tea, Six Fine Ladies to Fight a Great Jack@ss", but the stack sequence itself.

I've had a couple magicians offer to trade me stack sequences and I've declined so far simply because I feel sensitive to the IP issues.
I have published works in a non-magical scope (origami) and I publish non-electronically, because ebooks are too easy to copy. But usually within a year of publication some jerk somewhere will scan the work and post it on a "sharing site" and any small return from my work ... disappears.

So these are my thoughts and questions. Where do we draw the line? How do we treat creators fairly? What is the secret we are protecting: The rules of the stack?, The sequence itself? or just the tricks? And what is a safe way to share the resources we hold individually? (I'm an old guy and won't be around forever -- What should happen to the data and algorithms I developed around this collection?)

I invite your thoughts.
Just Some Guy.

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Six Fine Ladies to Fight a Great Jackass -- me."
Poof-Daddy
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What do you want to do with all these stacks? I guess more info is needed to answer. There are several folks that have published memdeck trainer apps that not only come with preset apps but allow you to add your own, so if it is an app you want to make, contact some app makers to find out if they had to go thru anything special. One member here made a very good app for Aronson and Tamariz and you could reach him thru pm. I will try to remember his username and get back but you can probably just search this forum as well as the app forums.

There is also a couple (The Trustmans) who have 3 different stack memory books on Vanishing Inc. They too could be contacted probably.
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tom_stamm
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Poof-daddy:
Yes, I probably won't release the memDeck trainer. I wrote it for myself, but it has 158 stacks built into it.

I am more interested in the datasets and metadata used to develop the stack system and analysis logic.

My question is what can be shared? It seems a lot of stacks are publish, not by the stack creators, but by people who build memDeck training materials (programs, images,...)

Do we care about protecting the card sequences of stacks, or can anybody publish any data? Does Someone like Doug Dyment or Patrick Redford care if their stack sequences reside on the internet?

I would think they do care, but maybe I'm just being a fussy old guy.

I would really like to know what the community thinks about it.
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alicauchy
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Saying that the following sequence of digits 3,1415926535897932384 is worth to be memorized (since it is an approximation of the number π ) is completely useless
unless one gets used to its properties and the many mathematical and physical formulas in which it is involved.

Similarly, to know the sequence of cards of a certain stack is completely useless unless you know **what to do with it**. That's the important thing and where the IPR may play their role.

My two cents.
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Claudio
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Tom

Interesting post from a stack trainer angle. I take it that you’re talking about memorized stacks?

The quick answer to your question whether one is entitled to publish any stack sequence: seek permission form the creator, if s/he is still alive.

This is mainly an ethical question, from my point of view as I very much doubt that you could copy-right the sequence itself.

In some cases though the stack sequence has been made public by his author or is widely available on the internet. In that case asking for permission is purely academic, but not pointless.

Now, is publishing a stack sequence detrimental to the commercial revenue expectations of his author. I would argue that it is the opposite. The stack sequence is just a tool that one has to learn to master before taking advantage of its latent possibilities. The more tools there are the better to help the stack to gain ground on the stack market where competition is fierce.

Knowing a stack sequence in itself is not going to get you very far without purchasing the relevant literature – usually book(s) authored by the stack creator where all the built-in effects are described in details. Often the publication will contain information on how to remember the stack, or how to get there from NDO, or Si Stebbins etc. All this information will be missing from a stack trainer.

True, there are lots of excellent effects (the majority in fact) that are stack independent, but usually one major consideration when choosing a stack, are the built-in effects. Otherwise, why (other than ease of getting into the stack) choose a particular stack. Personally, I use my own stack, and therefore avoid detection from stack “aficionados”.

As the author of a stack trainer, I asked myself those questions and decided to limit the number of stacks to a couple of very well-known ones and allow the user to add more stacks themselves (as it is database driven too, CRUD operations are permitted).

I did not seek permission as I thought I was actually helping people who had bought memdeck material and meant to practice it. Furthermore my app is free, so I’m not making money out of other people’s work. Plus my app lists the author and a book for each major built-in stack.

However, I now think I should have and it would have been courteous to do so.

I think you should definitely publish your stack trainer app, if you think it’s got something that can help stack students. You don’t have to pile in all the data though.

As for your data, it should be published as I see it as an historical record of Stack knowledge. I don’t think you’re going to cut down on anyone incomes by doing so and ethically you could seek authorisation from living authors.

Edit: I missed @alicauchy’s post that said it all more succinctly.
tom_stamm
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Alicauchy: "...to know the sequence of cards of a certain stack is completely useless unless you know **what to do with it**."

You are absolutely correct.

Interesting things can be done, or discovered about with modeling and analysis without using the stack for performance (fairuse). Obviously the published contents, rules and effect published, is protected by copyright, but is the card sequence also protected (legally or ethically)?

Is the card sequence part of the secret?
Just Some Guy.

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tom_stamm
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Claudio

Thanks for the reply. In my stack metadata I do record the name of the work and published date that the stack was published in. I also record the URL, if I got it off the internets.

Just because something was published on the internet or the creator dies, doesn't legally move it into the public domain. So if I were to publish my DB in some form, I should at least get the copyrighter's permission.

There are a limited number of ways 52 cards can be organized into a stack (51! - a big, but limited number). Unlike a book, any card sequence can be "discoverable". Is it IP? Is the "card sequence" also protected (legally/ethically)?

So I collect card stacks for my own intellectual reasons. I am unsure what I am allowed to share.
Just Some Guy.

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Waterloophai
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"""Is the card sequence part of the secret?"""
Very difficult to answer because USUALLY it is not a part of the secret and sometimes (I know at least one... Smile ) it is.

As suggested by others already in this thread, ask the creator.
In 99,99% he will be very happy to give you permission.
After all, for him it is a sort of "product placement". (in other branches they even pay a lot of money for that)
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"""There are a limited number of ways 52 cards can be organized into a stack """

Here you make a little mistake (I think).
There are more ways to arrange a deck of cards than atoms on earth ! (no joke)

http://gizmodo.com/there-are-more-ways-t......53612843
Claudio
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Not to be pedantic, but the number of permutations is actually 52! which is a finite but huge number.
tom_stamm
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Claudio & Waterloophai:

The number of combinations a 52 card deck can represent is 52! (52 factorial - 52*51*50*49*...) Yes a very big number however...

When we consider that a stack IDENTITY does not change regardless where you start we can remove 51 of those combinations for each stack, therefore 51! (yes, an astronomical number)

For example: The Aronson Stack is STILL the Aronson stack if you cut it to the 23rd card or the 47th card. The start/stop points does not change the IDENTITY of the stack. Think of stacks as cyclical.

I use the about logic to develop a hash which uniquely identifies a card sequence regardless of where you start the sequence. (i.e. the algorithmic SiStebbin(3) is the same sequence as the memdeck "Steven Youell's Hacker Stack"). There are a few stacks that have these kinds of duel identities.
Just Some Guy.

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Claudio
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Tom, if you really want to know where you stand from a legal point of view, you'll have to consult a copyright lawyer.

However I have yet to see, or hear of, anybody being sued for publishing a stack sequence. I even think that trying to copyright a specific deck order would get you laughed out the room - but I'm not lawyer. Can you imagine the possibles ramifications?
Claudio
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Thanks for correcting my error. I did not think of the cyclical nature of the stack which has 52 possible start points. We usually think of a stack as an ordered set numbered from 1 to 52. The way I see it the number of possible stacks is 52!/52 = 52*51!/52 = 51! which is the same number you suggested (but I find my logic easier to follow).

It looks to me that you've put a lot of efforts in Stacks. It would be a pity to see all that effort go to waste.

By the way, your stack trainer app: is it a mobile/tablet app or a desktop one?
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Just to be pedantic, I will argue that a memorized deck (such as Aronson, Mnemonica, QuickerStack, etc.) is not cyclic, as the card/position relationships are broken in all but the intended order.

A truly cyclic stack (such as Stebbins, 8Kings, DAO, BCS, etc.), of course, retains the identical functionality at any start point.
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tom_stamm
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Claudio:

Practically you are probably correct. Legally see below (for the US). Ethically (for the magic community)? Is getting permission if they are alive, then enough?

I would hate to become "that-guy-who-stole-[someone's]-stack-and published-it". Or am I overthinking this? Can we treat this like writing a paper, with attributions (i.e. footnotes)? arg!


So in the US, Public domain is defined:
"All works published in the U.S. before 1923
All works published with a copyright notice from 1923 through 1963 without copyright renewal
All works published without a copyright notice from 1923 through 1977
All works published without a copyright notice from 1978 through March 1, 1989, and without subsequent registration within 5 years

Congress has passed a series of laws extending the term of copyright. Currently, the default term is life of the author plus 70 years. That means that most of the copyrighted works created from the late 1970s to the present may not become public domain during your lifetime.

In general, works published after 1977 will not fall into the public domain until 70 years after the death of author, or, for corporate works, anonymous works, or works for hire, 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first."

source: https://www.teachingcopyright.org/handou......faq.html
Just Some Guy.

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tom_stamm
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Hi Doug:

Yes, you are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. In the context I was speaking on though: That any stack can be cut anywhere and not change the identity of the stack. That any deck is cyclic because cutting does change the stack order. (therefore there are 52! combinations possible from a 52 card deck, but only 51! stacks possible from a 52 card deck.)

Doug, you are the perfect guy to ask this question. Is a card-sequence a secret? Is it protected by copyright? or by magic ethics? Would you mind if some publish a card-sequence from one of your stacks with attribution? Do you consider the card-sequence part of your IP?

Thanks in advance for your input.
Just Some Guy.

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Claudio
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You're correct Doug, but if I were to publish a "new" stack which is in essence the Aronson stack with a new start point, would not people think that I'm at best taking the p*ss or an utter idiot at worst? The cyclical nature of the stack is not so much mathematical, but is implicitly perceived.
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Tom wondered:
Quote:
Doug, you are the perfect guy to ask this question. Is a card-sequence a secret? Is it protected by copyright? or by magic ethics? Would you mind if some publish a card-sequence from one of your stacks with attribution? Do you consider the card-sequence part of your IP?

Is it a secret? It depends; there is no universally applicable answer. It's up to the creator to decide how much secrecy is warranted/requested.

Is it protected? It's definitely protected by copyright, but as in many magic-related things, it's usually not cost-effective for individuals to pursue legal remedies. It should certainly be protected by magic ethics, though in this modern everything-is-free world, the term "magic ethics" is rapidly becoming an oxymoron. With the emphasis on "moron", because few things are more self-defeating.

Do I consider a specifically-engineered card sequence to be part of my IP? I do. How would I feel about someone publishing it with attribution? It depends on the nature of the application: I would definitely like the writer to ask for permission in advance, and I might or might not grant it, depending on the nature of the revelation. In practice, I find that most writers know what is or is not likely to be permitted, so I can't recall ever turning down such a request (though on one occasion, I asked for the material to be modified slightly, in a fashion that did not hinder the writer's goal, but better protected my own interests).
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As for European IP law, it's perfectly fine to publish a certain stack order since it's not protected by it. As for the ethics question I'd also say there is no problem at all: what would be the problem about giving the stack order without saying anything you can do with the order? Take the Redford stack for example, I wouldn't have known how to use it if I hadn't bought the book.

Edit: the question about it being protected by IP is, under European law, not even relevant because even if one were to argument that it falls under the IP protection, you can still invoke the right to citation.
tom_stamm
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Doug contributed:

Quote:
It's up to the creator to decide how much secrecy is warranted/requested.


and

Quote:
It should certainly be protected by magic ethics, though in this modern everything-is-free world, the term "magic ethics" is rapidly becoming an oxymoron. With the emphasis on "moron", because few things are more self-defeating.


Thank you for your great answer! I agree/understand with what you said. I'm thinking that the very least I should do is to contact stack copyright holders and ask permission... and honor the answer.

If I wasn't concerned about your (and anybody's) IP, I wouldn't have started the topic. Thank you for your reply.

Tom has more thoughts to think...
Just Some Guy.

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Six Fine Ladies to Fight a Great Jackass -- me."
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