The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Are Your Magic Reviews Even Legal? FTC and Ethical Guidelines (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Kasey Logan
View Profile
New user
25 Posts

Profile of Kasey Logan
Years ago (read before life got crazy with 4 kids) I was a social media manager, and virtual assistant full time. I also did product reviews to bring in supplementary income, and get cool crap for free. With that said there are some sticky legal and ethical issues when it comes to reviews. Ethical and legal reviews are imperative for the mentalism community when the exact product cannot be spelled out in detail and the description of the effects themselves tend to be vague by necessity.

I know a lot of people may not realize there are laws surrounding reviews (even the one's casually left on Amazon), so there is absolutely no judgement from me when it comes to reviews you may have personally written/recorded in the past.

Creators should encourage their reviewers to be as ethical as possible and I would love to see them share FTC guidelines (or just copy this list, I don't care anything for more honest reviews) whenever they send someone a new product. If we can't trust reviewers in this community then it increases the risk when we try a new creator or product. More ethical reviews lead to more sales, period. (This is why Amazon guidelines became so strict, and they often cull reviews that are suspect, Amazon knows if you can't trust the reviews you won't buy.)

If you've published reviews in the past, and realize they aren't legal/ethical I encourage you to go in and edit them. Reviews are an, incredibly important service. I appreciate everyone who takes the time and sometimes money to do them. They become all the more valuable when they follow the legal and ethical guidelines set out by the FTC.


How to tell if your mentalism/magic review is probably legal
(I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, if you review any products, read the FTC guidelines for yourself. Be aware they change all the time)

Did you disclose relationship to the creator?
This is the law. If you met someone once at a magic convention and had drinks just say so. If they're your magic mentor and they invite you over to their house for tea and crumpets, say so. If you perform with them regularly, just say so. And if you don't really know them at all, PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE say so. This is the only type of relationship you are not legally required to disclose, but it will add credibility to your review if you do.

Did you disclose what YOU paid for the product?
If you got a discount for a product for the express purpose of doing a review or if you got the product for free, you are legally required to disclose that information in a prominent way. It must be in your video, or in the text in the same font size. Here's a sample disclosure, "I was given this product for free in exchange for my honest review." Boom you're done, and now the consumer knows to take that into consideration. If you paid full price for a product, be sure to mention that too, simply because these are the reviews consumers trust the most.

Note to Creators: If you sent out a review copy to someone and they haven't left a review, don't remind them about it. They probably haven't left a review because they didn't like your product. Let it go.

Were you paid to do a review?
Some retail websites (like Amazon) forbid this. However, it is perfectly legal to be paid for a review BUT now your review or video must be labeled as an advertisement or sponsored, because that is exactly what it is. Sample disclosure "This video today is sponsored by So and So's new book. All the opinions are my own and I would never share a product I didn't love" And again you're done, make it quick make it simple and preferably towards the beginning of your review.

Note to reviewers: I always gave my clients the option of me not publishing a review if I didn't like the product. In the long run you'll get more sponsored reviews this way.

Do you get a kick back if someone buys from your link?
If a link is an affiliate link, or if your discount code will give you a percentage of the sale you MUST disclose. There's nothing wrong with doing either of these as long as the consumer knows.

Are you also a magic creator?
This one is more of an ethical guideline than a law. There is a HUGE potential of a conflict of interest when it comes to creators endorsing or reviewing other products. Obviously endorsements from other people in the industry are hugely important and with well known names it's not as much of an issue. BUT, since so many people are publishing and creating these days (which is not necessarily a negative thing in and of itself) creators (especially the unknowns) need to tread lightly. Let's say you and your friend both release an effect, and both agree to leave honest, informative, reviews for each other. That's all well and good. As long as the relationship is disclosed there's nothing wrong with that. But now imagine, that you and another mentalism creator release very similar effects at the same time. No one stole any ideas, they were just independently created and released together. As a creator it might be tempting to leave a negative review on another person's product in order to boost your own sales. This is why Amazon will not allow authors (based on ip. addresses) to review books that are the same genre. (I had dozens of reviews on my eBooks culled after this particular policy change). So though you're not legally required to, if you are an unknown creator consider disclosing this in your review as well.

The whole point of reviews is to better inform consumers and help them make informed decisions. Well crafted and ethical reviews increase sales. Another important function is it helps creators know if they need to change the price points or modify the description or product. Creators take reviews seriously and are incredibly grateful for those who take the time to do them. As a consumer I am also incredibly grateful, because reviews have prevented me on more than one occasion from dropping $50 on something that I would wind up hating.

So thank you for all who take the time to review. I hope you find these guidelines helpful.

You can find the full FTC guidelines here:
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business......e-asking
lin
View Profile
Special user
California
809 Posts

Profile of lin
Thank you, this should be a "sticky" topic.
Kasey Logan
View Profile
New user
25 Posts

Profile of Kasey Logan
I agree, but am definitely biased.

Also it should be noted, these laws apply to reviews left on forums too. Like the Café. *cough cough*
Stunninger
View Profile
Inner circle
1346 Posts

Profile of Stunninger
Kasey, thanks for posting this.
innercirclewannabe
View Profile
Inner circle
Ireland
1569 Posts

Profile of innercirclewannabe
Sound advice. Seems to be though that there is a trend to almost 'gang up' on a bad reviewer of an effect. This is driven by the sycophants and 'little fan club' of the creator. I just don't read or trust reviews of any effect these days unless I know or respect the reviewer. In general, the amount of crap and cliched nonsense that is spouted out about the effect, really turns me right off ever considering buying it. It would be very welcome to see your post adhered to - however, I won't be holding my breathe.
Tá sé ach cleas má dhéanann tú sé cuma mhaith ar cheann.
Cervier
View Profile
Inner circle
France
1179 Posts

Profile of Cervier
Very interesting, thanks Smile
(At least, as moral guidelines, because FTC regulations don't apply in Europe).
The Lynx deck / The Lynx deck - alt. site I'm lousy at maintaining sites Smile

Image
GRAPHEETEEZ on GooglePlay

"A friend is someone who knows you well but loves you anyway" (H. Lauwick)
RichLind
View Profile
New user
56 Posts

Profile of RichLind
Quote:
On Nov 20, 2017, Kasey Logan wrote:
Years ago (read before life got crazy with 4 kids) I was a social media manager, and virtual assistant full time. I also did product reviews to bring in supplementary income, and get cool crap for free. With that said there are some sticky legal and ethical issues when it comes to reviews. Ethical and legal reviews are imperative for the mentalism community when the exact product cannot be spelled out in detail and the description of the effects themselves tend to be vague by necessity.

I know a lot of people may not realize there are laws surrounding reviews (even the one's casually left on Amazon), so there is absolutely no judgement from me when it comes to reviews you may have personally written/recorded in the past.

Creators should encourage their reviewers to be as ethical as possible and I would love to see them share FTC guidelines (or just copy this list, I don't care anything for more honest reviews) whenever they send someone a new product. If we can't trust reviewers in this community then it increases the risk when we try a new creator or product. More ethical reviews lead to more sales, period. (This is why Amazon guidelines became so strict, and they often cull reviews that are suspect, Amazon knows if you can't trust the reviews you won't buy.)

If you've published reviews in the past, and realize they aren't legal/ethical I encourage you to go in and edit them. Reviews are an, incredibly important service. I appreciate everyone who takes the time and sometimes money to do them. They become all the more valuable when they follow the legal and ethical guidelines set out by the FTC.


How to tell if your mentalism/magic review is probably legal
(I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, if you review any products, read the FTC guidelines for yourself. Be aware they change all the time)

Did you disclose relationship to the creator?
This is the law. If you met someone once at a magic convention and had drinks just say so. If they're your magic mentor and they invite you over to their house for tea and crumpets, say so. If you perform with them regularly, just say so. And if you don't really know them at all, PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE say so. This is the only type of relationship you are not legally required to disclose, but it will add credibility to your review if you do.

Did you disclose what YOU paid for the product?
If you got a discount for a product for the express purpose of doing a review or if you got the product for free, you are legally required to disclose that information in a prominent way. It must be in your video, or in the text in the same font size. Here's a sample disclosure, "I was given this product for free in exchange for my honest review." Boom you're done, and now the consumer knows to take that into consideration. If you paid full price for a product, be sure to mention that too, simply because these are the reviews consumers trust the most.

Note to Creators: If you sent out a review copy to someone and they haven't left a review, don't remind them about it. They probably haven't left a review because they didn't like your product. Let it go.

Were you paid to do a review?
Some retail websites (like Amazon) forbid this. However, it is perfectly legal to be paid for a review BUT now your review or video must be labeled as an advertisement or sponsored, because that is exactly what it is. Sample disclosure "This video today is sponsored by So and So's new book. All the opinions are my own and I would never share a product I didn't love" And again you're done, make it quick make it simple and preferably towards the beginning of your review.

Note to reviewers: I always gave my clients the option of me not publishing a review if I didn't like the product. In the long run you'll get more sponsored reviews this way.

Do you get a kick back if someone buys from your link?
If a link is an affiliate link, or if your discount code will give you a percentage of the sale you MUST disclose. There's nothing wrong with doing either of these as long as the consumer knows.

Are you also a magic creator?
This one is more of an ethical guideline than a law. There is a HUGE potential of a conflict of interest when it comes to creators endorsing or reviewing other products. Obviously endorsements from other people in the industry are hugely important and with well known names it's not as much of an issue. BUT, since so many people are publishing and creating these days (which is not necessarily a negative thing in and of itself) creators (especially the unknowns) need to tread lightly. Let's say you and your friend both release an effect, and both agree to leave honest, informative, reviews for each other. That's all well and good. As long as the relationship is disclosed there's nothing wrong with that. But now imagine, that you and another mentalism creator release very similar effects at the same time. No one stole any ideas, they were just independently created and released together. As a creator it might be tempting to leave a negative review on another person's product in order to boost your own sales. This is why Amazon will not allow authors (based on ip. addresses) to review books that are the same genre. (I had dozens of reviews on my eBooks culled after this particular policy change). So though you're not legally required to, if you are an unknown creator consider disclosing this in your review as well.

The whole point of reviews is to better inform consumers and help them make informed decisions. Well crafted and ethical reviews increase sales. Another important function is it helps creators know if they need to change the price points or modify the description or product. Creators take reviews seriously and are incredibly grateful for those who take the time to do them. As a consumer I am also incredibly grateful, because reviews have prevented me on more than one occasion from dropping $50 on something that I would wind up hating.

So thank you for all who take the time to review. I hope you find these guidelines helpful.

You can find the full FTC guidelines here:
https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business......e-asking



I'm all for ethical reviews. I learned the hard way by buying a forum recommended effect to find out it was totally inappropriate. That said, the post should not be interpreted as LAW in my reading. The below quote from the actual guidelines points out that the guidelines give insight and "don’t have the force of law"

"The Guides are intended to give insight into what the FTC thinks about various marketing activities involving endorsements and how Section 5 might apply to those activities. The Guides themselves don’t have the force of law. However, practices inconsistent with the Guides may result in law enforcement actions alleging violations of the FTC Act. Law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations and to abide by various requirements in the future. Despite inaccurate news reports, there are no 'fines' for violations of the FTC Act."

-rich
Paul S Wingham
View Profile
Inner circle
1335 Posts

Profile of Paul S Wingham
What an interesting post - Thanks.

I must admit I have long held the opinion that reviews on the magic café (particularly from those releasing things themselves) should be taken with a pinch of salt. I think we all know creator A who always gets a marvellous quote from creator B. I'm not suggesting that those involved are deliberately acting unethically, but often they are too close to the individual to be truly objective.

Then there are the "darlings" of magic who release things where people are almost afraid to say anything bad, or risk a flaming from their hoard of fans. Jerome finley was a classic example where you couldn't really say anything against his over priced pdfs without risk of a flaming.

I say to anyone posting a review, you need to do so with eyes open and an understanding that what you say could easily influence someone to purchase something with their hard earned money. With that in mind you could almost liken a less than honest review to a form of fraud really and when you put it like that, you may not be so willing to "grease the wheels" for your mate's release.

Anyway; thanks again
Senor Fabuloso
View Profile
Inner circle
1252 Posts

Profile of Senor Fabuloso
I think if the op could develop a template for honest reviews that kept things simple and to the point would be helpful. No opinion just the who what where how and why would help me to make better decisions.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
mentalism addict
View Profile
New user
56 Posts

Profile of mentalism addict
This was interesting thanks Kasey for shearing, I never thought about it
Max Hazy
View Profile
Special user
521 Posts

Profile of Max Hazy
This is a great topic! The point about relationship with creator is something I'm definitely going to add in my future reviews.

However, the most delicate matter here wasn't really addressed. Our market is the only market where you don't really know what you're buying until you buy it. Saying why something is or isn't for you, why is or isn't a great product and even making comparisons with other products without revealing the secrets is definitely something that requires "feeling" on the part of the reviewer. I wonder if it's possible to make guidelines about this "feeling" when reviewing.

Thanks for the topic. Should be a sticky imo.
"Your method is in my opinion the very best way to do Q&A"
Millard Longman

"Max has pushed some less known and seldom used principles a huge step forward"
Jan Forster


Arcane Grimoires Vol 1- http://www.maxhazy.com/arcane-grimoires/apocryphal-reach/

Arcane Grimoires Vol 2- http://www.maxhazy.com/Codex-Mentis/
Luke Jonas
View Profile
Regular user
Yorkshire UK
107 Posts

Profile of Luke Jonas
Quite an interesting read.
Cleverpaws
View Profile
Regular user
Northern California
127 Posts

Profile of Cleverpaws
This is interesting because as you say there isn't a way to see what you're buying exactly until you get it. I recently got cleopatras hand and was sure there was a gimmick to make it work with me having to. Well I was wrong. I could post a review saying it doesn't work as advertised (which it doesn't) or I could say it works exactly as advertised because I am smart enough to make it pick the right card (which I am not). Someone could read my review and say its false.
On another note I see that the company that makes the play dough walking man has a complaint from someone on ripoff reports claiming their advertising is false that the little man doesn't walk.
Its almost as if as a purchaser of magic you need to assume there is something more needed (whether its skill of hand or of performance etc) on most items when purchasing.
I think as long as the reviewer does not say it works by itself without any skill of the performer, then it is their own review and everyone making a purchase should think for themselves.
"one mans treasure is another mans trash". Unless someone is claiming independence from any product, you should make your own assumptions.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Are Your Magic Reviews Even Legal? FTC and Ethical Guidelines (10 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2019 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.23 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL