Educate me about credits, copyright, ownership please.

Post topics about the business side of magic.

Postby Robert Allen » 06/20/03 02:22 PM

On occasion I've considered trying to make small runs of magic apparatus. Whether I'll ever actually do this remains to be seen. While thinking about this however, I realized that I don't know the details of how to avoid infringing upon others creations, past or present. I'm posting this in the hope of learning the details. What I do know at this point is:

1) Patent - I forget how long these run for, and I can't recall whether you patent an idea, or an implementation of an idea. How does "patent pending" relate?

2) Copyright - I can't remember how long these run for either. As I understand it these cover published printed/video material only? Also, I understand that Copyright law differs from country to country, and I've heard rumor that "All Rights Reserved" is some sort of international protection of property, is that true? If so how?

3) Trademark - I don't know how long these last. I believe they protect a specific, um, mark, or printed sigil, but not printed material or manufactured items. Example: Arm & Hammer baking soda is trademarked, but I can sell my own version of baking soda and it's not protected by the trademark as long as I don't use "Arm & Hammer".

4) Crediting - as far as I can tell, this is a moral thing to do, not a legal thing to do. Am I correct?

Some questions that come to mind are:

a) I see a piece of apparatus described in a book, and the book is still under copyright, can I legally build the apparatus for sale, or is it protected by the copyright?

b) Example: a book has trick "Card Zorch" described in it. I cannot republish Card Zorch until that copyright expires? Under what cirumstances could I publish a modified version of Card Zorch without violating the Copyright?

c) I see a piece of apparatus that's selling like hotcakes. I blatently rip it off and sell it for a few bucks cheaper. If it's patented (which is unlikely for most cheap tricks given the cost of patents) then I can be prosecuted. But under what other circumstances are there legal remidies for someone who rips off a non-patented design? What about if I make an "improvement" to the design of a patented/non-patented item?

Ok, thanks in advance for your contributions. Let's keep it civil :D
Robert Allen
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 06/20/03 03:03 PM


How does using your labor to dilute the value of a creators work better our art?

I suspect there are creators out there who would welcome your offer to manufacture their works.

Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
Jonathan Townsend
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Postby Robert Allen » 06/20/03 03:42 PM

Gosh, stupid me. I figured people would welcome the chance to help someone NOT infringe on others rights. I guess this answers at least one of my questions, and that is that unless an item is patented it is not legally protected.

I didn't mean to step on anyones toes with my post. But, wow, what an eye opener. I start to grasp why there are so many unscrupulous manufacturers out there :( .
Robert Allen
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Postby Jeff Haas » 06/20/03 05:24 PM


A few comments...

What expertise do you have? What can you make? (Metal, wood, etc.)

Are you planning on updating classic apparatus (like Wolf's Magic posted somewhere else) or doing current stuff?

What would you like to make?

In terms of respecting people's intellectual property, the magic community has different views on this than what's strictly legal. I'm sure you've seen the discussions on this topic on the net. Sure, you could take something out of a current book, change a few minor details and sell it under a different name, and there'd be no legal recourse for someone you knocked off.

But you'd get figured out pretty quickly and it would pop up on the net.

If you want to do the right thing in the magic community, see if there is someone to contact regarding ownership of a specific device, and get in touch to see if they're interested in working with you. I think most people would like to know that the originator of an idea was involved in its production.

Jeff Haas
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Postby Guest » 07/03/03 07:25 AM

For what it's worth, in answer to your original post:

Copyright protection lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

The United States patents are now granted for a term of 20 years from the date of application (14 years for design patents).

A registered trademark is renewable 15 years from the date of registration.

I agree with Mr. Haas regarding contacting the owner of a specific device, for any related permission. There are too many people making "knockoffs", and I'm sure you don't want to be mixed in that crowd.

Postby Robert Allen » 07/03/03 07:57 AM

Thanks David!
Robert Allen
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Joined: 03/18/08 11:53 AM

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