Stack copyright question

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Jack Shalom
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Stack copyright question

Postby Jack Shalom » September 10th, 2017, 8:33 am

Over at the Green Place there is a discussion going on whether a stack arrangement such as Aronson or Tamariz can be copyrighted. Clearly books, instructions describing the stack can be copyrighted, but what about the stack itself?

My understanding about copyright is that it only protects a specific expression or a performance of an idea and not the idea itself; that inventions and so on, must be patented for protection. Can someone here enlighten?

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Tom Stone
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Re: Stack copyright question

Postby Tom Stone » September 10th, 2017, 8:39 am

Jack Shalom wrote:Over at the Green Place there is a discussion going on whether a stack arrangement such as Aronson or Tamariz can be copyrighted. Clearly books, instructions describing the stack can be copyrighted, but what about the stack itself?

It likely depends on where in the world you are. From my perspective, the answer is yes, of course it can.
My understanding about copyright is that it only protects a specific expression or a performance of an idea and not the idea itself; that inventions and so on, must be patented for protection. Can someone here enlighten?

The idea "what if I stacked the cards in an order I could make some use of?" can't have copyright. A specific expression of that idea, like the Tamariz stack, can.

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lybrary
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Re: Stack copyright question

Postby lybrary » September 10th, 2017, 8:51 am

I am not a lawyer but I have studied and dealt with US copyright law extensively. My understanding is that you cannot copyright a stack in the US. You could copyright the instructions and description of it. But the arrangement of cards in a particular order is not something a copyright would protect. This would fall under patents, but since all of these stacks have already been published and made public without patent protection one has lost the opportunity to patent it. Nevertheless in magic we have an ethical code of conduct where you wouldn't claim ownership of a stack that has already been published by somebody else. But you can certainly use the stack in your performances, develop your own routines, etc.
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JHostler
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Re: Stack copyright question

Postby JHostler » September 10th, 2017, 11:57 am

lybrary wrote:My understanding is that you cannot copyright a stack in the US. You could copyright the instructions and description of it. But the arrangement of cards in a particular order is not something a copyright would protect. This would fall under patents...


Correct (in the U.S.).

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Re: Stack copyright question

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 10th, 2017, 1:09 pm

One cannot "copyright" anything under U.S. law. Copyright is a noun, not a verb. Under federal law, a copyright arises automatically upon "creation" of a work. "Creation" occurs when the work is fixed in a tangible form or medium. Example: I come up with a great original song while in the shower, and sing it. Meanwhile, my neighbor hears me singing it through the open window. The work has not yet been created, I have no copyright, and absolutely no legal protection under U.S. copyright law.

A few months later, let's say I find out that my neighbor sang the song for his uncle, a big record executive in Nashville, who in turn had a major artist record it, and that the song has now gone platinum. Nothing I can do about it at all. If, however, I had written that song out in musical notation, or recorded it on a cassette or my iPhone, for example, then the moment I did that, a copyright would have automatically arisen, because my work was "created," that is, it was embodied on a fixed medium (the paper, the cassette, or the iPhone). At that very moment of creation, I would own the copyright. But, that alone does not give me any legal right to prevent anyone from selling or performing my work or to sue them for damages for doing so. I would not possess the right to sue for copyright infringement until I "register" the copyright with the U.S. Copyright office. Then (and only then) if someone sold or performed my work (in this case, the song), could I sue for damages or an injunction.

So, most people are under under the impression that you "copyright" a work, when actually you register an already-existing copyright. Again, the copyright itself comes into existence automatically, and is possessed/owned immediately upon creation of the work. Registering the copyright is just a procedure that must be done as a pre-condition to suing someone for copyright infringement.


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