To Pete Biro,
I have a question about the incident with the Origami Box at the Salt Lake City Convention.
I do not condone Jeff Davis for building Origami Boxes, but did you walk around the dealer's room and look over the merchandise of other dealers, and "pressure" them to remove from their inventory any item which they may have helped themselves too?
If you didn't, you were unfairly picking on just one dealer. If you did, I suspect you would be opening a very large can of worms. For example, how did Lubor Fiedler's effect where the coin penetrates a sheet of latex rubber get into the public domain? Many magic dealers "manufacturE" it by going to a dental supply house and buying large latex sheets and cutting them up into 4" squares. With a simple one page set of instructions, they sell Lubor's creation for $3 to $10 bucks and their cost is pennies.
Any of the dealers who carry the line of "Royal" magic tricks may have had a version of Abbott's "Squash" on their table.
Possibly one of the dealers had a Zig Zag in their display. (Abbott's and Owens now have them sitting in their showrooms.) This trick was the brain child of the late Robert Harbin. When he published The Robert Harbin Book of Magic, he tried very hard to limit the rights to build and perform the Zig Zag to purchasers of his book. (I was one, and perhaps you were too.) But my question is exactly how did this effect end up in the public domain? And why has the Origami box remained the property of Jim Steinmeyer? Jeff Davis is certainly not the only dealer who has built Origami Boxes.
Another example. Remember when Ralph MacAbee introduced the MacAbee Rings to the magic world? And how Bob Little began selling his version? He just went out and found bracelets that would work, gaffed one of them, and even Xeroxed Ralph's original instructions. Many thought they were buying an original set of Ralph's rings. As far as I know, Bob Little is still allowed to bring his booth to any convention he wants to.
How about Professor's Nightmare? Hen Fetsch created this in the late 50's, I believe, and sold the manufacturing rights to Gene Gordon. Gene Gordon sold them at his shop, at conventions, and through the mail. Today, many dealers manufacture the thing by just cutting up a few cents worth of rope and sticking it in an envelope along with a one page instruction sheet. I know that Hen and Gene are long gone, but exactly how and when did the trick pass into the magic world's public domain? I fear that if one dealer rips something off, they're a thief, but if many dealers do, then they're not because the item is now Public Domain. Doesn't seem right, does it?
I have set up a little booth at a couple of conventions myself, and traveled with Hank Morehouse and helped him run a booth a many magic conventions. I never saw the convention committee go through the dealer's room and look over anyone's merchandise for possible rip-offs. If they did, I know they could find many, many questionable items.
Again, Pete, I want to clarify that I am only asking questions. I am certainly not taking a stand on the side of Jeff Davis, but I have had the opportunity to hear his side of the story. It was no accident that he brought an Origami Box to that convention. He was actively seeking a confrontation in the hopes that it would lead to an open forum where the issues of proprietary rights could be discussed. He makes another point as well. And I'm NOT endorsing his position, just reporting his argument. When you "pressured" him to remove the Origami from his booth, if he was not in violation of any law, you might have been. There are fair trade laws which prohibit restraint of trade in situations where a business person is selling an item which is not legally protected. He considered a law suit over that issue, and went as far as consulting an attorney. I don't know why he didn't pursue it further.
Pete, I do believe that we all should act ethically. But, exactly what can or should the magic world at large do to enforce these ethics? These rip offs have been going on for hundreds of years. Discussions like this one have been going on as far back as I can remember. Is there anything we can do other than just talk? My fear is that there probably is not.
Wish I could be up in Portland with you, George, and Uncle Stanley.
"THE DOGS BARK, BUT THE CARAVAN MOVES ON."
(QUOTED FROM STAN KRAMIEN)