Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Discussion about Stealing...

Hello Folks,

just because I am thinking about this problem right now, I want to share my thoughts with you and also I want to ask about your thoughts concerning this problem.

We discuss a lot of time about stealing patter, routines, tricks etc. But what is unethical?

Lets assume you see another magician perform a trick and you ask him if you could use an idea from him. He says no, so no problem, you don't use it. But now lets assume that later on you find this same idea written and published in a book. So what now? Who si the original owner? Especially if he admits the idea is not his own and he learned it elsewhere? Can you use it or not? Do you have to cite him? E.g. this is a trick inspired by ... written down ... etc. Real people don't know and don't care.

So what now? Or lets say you came up with an idea only to see it performed somewhere else. Is it okay to use it anyway or would you throw your own idea away? Or if you re-invent a trick, where you don't know the workings just the effect? Maybe told to you by some layfriends?

Think about this problem, I don't find it an easy one. Especially if you think about which ideas are reffered to as common knowledge. In this specific case it is Bill to Walnut. It is basically Bill to impossible Location. Same is Bill to Lemon or Bill to Kiwi or Bill to whatever you can say. Do I have to feel bad, if I would be using it anyway. The personal level is of course one thing, if a friend is asked and he turns me down, it is probably another thing, as when I see it as a demo on the internet and the use it.
But on the other side, should you call him friend any more, if he is not sharing.
I understand the rule, if working in the same spots, maybe the same city or same restaurant, but everywhere.

How about "classics"? Cups and balls? Straight-jacket escape? I am working on the streets and you could bet, that almost every magician is performing the cups or a strait-jacket. What about that?

And last but not least a quote from Pablo Picasso (Or maybe someone else):

"Good artists copy, great artists steal."

I hope for a real discussion, as I this problem is really laying close to my heart.

Best Wishes,



Roland said...

I don't think it is that much of a discussion. If you truly came up with some sort of patter or move that it is your thing, and people should ask you to use it. If it is not your thing, then you don't have the right to be asked, or even mentioned.

LD said...

Is it really "stealing" to use an idea from someone else? Sure, if it's a verbatim copy of the trick, the method, and the patter then it's obviously stealing. But if someone does a nice effect and you like the effect, but develop your own method and patter then I don't consider it stealing. Likewise, if there is a good move no one "owns" that move. Magic can't evolve if people can lay claim to a particular move and prevent others from using it.

Should you give credit? Probably in front of a bunch of magicians you should. But to a lay audience? Why would you? None of them know or care who came up with some silly "move". Nor should they even be able to see a move. If they do, your performance sucks.

To your example, bill to walnut is hardly stealing so long as you are using your own character and patter to make it your own.

Magic, as an art, requires that we learn from each other, that we recognize good ideas and good methods and further develop them. We can't do that in an artificial box where we prevent ourselves from using something we've seen someone else perform. That's ridiculous.

Kolisar said...

If it has been published, and the author has not expressly restricted performance rights, then it is fair game (there are obvious problems with magicians who use the supplied patter verbatim, but that is another issue).

As for enhancements to existing effects, unless the alteration is obvious (substituting one control for another) or does not greatly alter the existing effect (e.g. using tarot cards vs playing cards) then, again, it is probably fair game. But if your reaction when seeing it is "wow, that totally changes the effect", then you should ask for permission.

I have had to buy numerous books because one effect provides details of a new sleight invented by someone else and does not state that they received permission from the original creator.

I also cancelled plans to publish an effect because I stumbled on a demo of a different effect that could be accomplished by my method, contacted the creator only to learn that my method was very similar to his.

Magic is an art, and like all arts, progress is made my learning from, and enhancing the products of those who came before us. But, credit and permission must be given/received before such enhancements.