Harbin Folding Table

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Postby Umpa Duze » 02/17/10 11:25 PM

Hi All,
Does anyone know who owns the rights to Harbin's folding table? I have seen a variety of models sold by different manufacturers and wanted to learn if there is someone who has the right to give permission for this product.


Thanks,
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Postby David Alexander » 02/18/10 12:48 AM

Think Chop Cup. Chop Chop wasn't dead very long before his idea was being knocked off in a variety of shapes and sizes. I don't think his widow made a dime from any of them.

I suspect the Harbin Table is much the same.
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/18/10 01:09 AM

The Harbin Packaway Table was published in Magic of Robert Harbin, which has a notice that manufacturing rights are strictly reserved. I don't know if Harbin subsequently granted rights to anyone, if not -- like the Zig-Zag Girl -- the only ones with the rights to build the prop are the 500 purchasers of that work, and only for their own use.

I would certainly be interested in hearing if the rights were subsequently granted.

I do think that at a certain point, provided there was not a transfer of the manufacturing rights, the material should belong to the community. But, so long as people who paid for the exclusive performance rights to the material in the Harbin book are still around we are not at that point.

I have a deep respect for Harbin and his work; the man was a genius who spent years polishing powerful, practical, original, stunning magic. A tangent to the packaway table; but it is sad to see Zig Zag Girl so often abused...it is a piece where thousands of details -- details of construction and presentation -- come together to form, when done well, an inexplicable impossibility (the proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMN9h4ppIbI )

Imagine if Harbin's explicit, repeated, requests had been honored; and Zig-Zag wasn't the up-sell illusion of every local banquet magician for thirty years...Performed instead by a small group who cared enough about their work to invest in the original book, to have the prop made well and correctly, and to understand how the thing works...instead of the cliche, instead of the pale xerox, instead of everyone in the room knowing what's coming as soon as they see the prop, instead of being able to go home after the show and find a (incorrect, but satisfying to a laymen) explanation on Wikipedia; Zig Zag Girl would still be able to surprise, and when we saw Zig Zag Girl we would be seeing something far closer to Harbin's actual genius than the modern abortions

Would that not be better for all of us?

Would it not be better -- even if it means we don't get to perform every great trick, even if it means occasionally not knowing how something works -- to be part of a community that respects the creators to whom we owe our material (which is our livelihood to some of us) ; rather than one that collectively decides that we can all steal someone's material because we've all been stealing his material for decades?

I guess I owe you some connection back to the original question. The Harbin Packaway Table isn't just practical, the revelation of the table as it opens out is a fun visual -- one of the little moments that are memorable and valuable.

If the rights weren't transferred to someone separately from the publication of the Harbin book, I strongly feel we ought to wait until the people who paid for exclusive rights to the material are no longer with us...

And that's tonight's Midnight internet rant...

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/18/10 10:11 AM

Was that his newspaper to table prop?
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/18/10 12:11 PM

Jon,

Image

Umpa,

an interesting tidbit from the book that may bear on the rights:

The form of the table was the subject of a British patent, but owing to the high cost of manufacture it failed to enter the world market.


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Postby David Alexander » 02/18/10 12:45 PM

It was, possibly, a design patent, but the high cost was almost certainly in the enforcement of rights, not the cost of actually making the table as evidenced by the various iterations of the idea that have come along in the intervening years and shown in the pictures above. Mikame also produced a version, one of which sits in my den. http://www.martinsmagic.com/?html=full&key=4404 for a commercial site photo.

Simply put, while there are ethical people in both amateur and professional magic, there are those who simply ignore rights and take and produce what they want. This has been done since early in magics history and will continue into the foreseeable future. The cost to enforce rights is odious which gives the pirates a free ride.

And this is not unique to magic. I was at a gift show many years ago, talking to a guy who had his own company that produced gift products. I asked him how he was doing and he replied that his sales were alright but that he mainly came to the show to see what he could "knock off." That seemed to be the reasoning of many who attended.

There is also another aspect of "rights" that seems little discussed. If I buy a "right" or a "license" from someone (as I have in the past with book rights) the grantor of those rights spells out in a contract that I have (usually) exclusive rights and that the grantor of those rights will legally defend the exclusivity which is what gives the license its value.

Has that happened in magic?
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Postby Umpa Duze » 02/19/10 04:37 AM

Hi,
Thanks for the comments. I want to do the right thing, and have a design that uses the basic principle but does not replicate Harbin's asthetic. I did own one of the 500 Magic of Robert Harbin books for a short time but I am not sure that entitles me to any particular priveledge as to the material.
Umpa
Cheers,
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/19/10 08:05 AM

? what do you mean aesthetic? The basic folding design with cutouts and how it opens up after unfolding is the matter in question. It's his. No idea if he gave anyone rights to manufacture for resale.
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Postby David Alexander » 02/19/10 11:55 AM

Even though Im not a lawyer, I suspect that the lack of enforcement of rights by Harbin's literary heirs have allowed his material to slip into the public domain. The fact that the Harbin book has been widely pirated to the point that one counterfeit edition now has collectable value itself, in addition to what must be hundreds if not thousands of Xerox copies (along with an huge number of "illegal" Zig Zag illusions as well as dozens of Harbin-style tables ), has rendered the idea of "rights" moot.
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Postby SteveP » 02/22/10 03:30 PM

Regarding the Zig-Zag, it's my understanding that you had to be one of the purchasers of the book and that John Gaughan had to build it.

David Alexander wrote:Think Chop Cup. Chop Chop wasn't dead very long before his idea was being knocked off in a variety of shapes and sizes. I don't think his widow made a dime from any of them.


Don Alan said that he was given the rights to the Chop Cup from Al's widow, however he never got it in writing.
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/22/10 03:51 PM

Steve,

The agreement signed by purchasers makes no mention of any particular builder, here's the relevant part:

(d)That the purchaser will not manufacture or make up any of the items published in the book except for his own personal and exclusive use


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Postby SteveP » 02/22/10 04:58 PM

Thanks Nathan. I may have gotten that confused with the Origami illusion. It's been a while since I've kept up with illusions and who is/was authorized to build what. I know when Doug Henning sold his illusions, Kirby VanBurch bought several of them. Doug sent along a cassette tape explaining everything. One of the "pleas" for lack of a better word, was not to let William Kennedy near any of them!
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/22/10 08:39 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:? what do you mean aesthetic? The basic folding design with cutouts and how it opens up after unfolding is the matter in question. It's his. No idea if he gave anyone rights to manufacture for resale.


Umpa is referring to the rights found within a design patent. You are talking about a utility patent. Two different things.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/22/10 10:10 PM

Ordinarily one seeks permission to use the work of another.

So, who does one ask about using the Harbin folding table idea/design/concept?
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 02/22/10 10:14 PM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: so we don't have some dumbass asking to split a hair when the basic issue is simple respect for someone else's work.
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/22/10 10:17 PM

I'd be interested to hear an answer to that question from someone with better knowledge of the whole situation -- an Alan Shaxon, Eric Lewis...
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/23/10 12:43 AM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Ordinarily one seeks permission to use the work of another.


Stated bluntly, that is a generalization, so overbroad as to be of little guidance.

In the real world, if the work of another is patented, and the patent has run out, there is no need, custom, or expectation to seek permission.

In the real world, if someone makes a useful invention or an ornamental design for a useful object, uses it publicly, and doesn't patent it, then it is presumed to have been put into the public domain and there is no need, custom, or expectation to seek permission.

In the real world, two parties can agree that certain information is a "trade secret" and should be protected. The restrictions Harbin placed on purchasers of his book have some similar qualities, but Harbin didn't take "reasonable steps" to preserve the secrets therein once it was published, so they don't qualify as trade secrets.

In the odd little world of magic, if someone comes up with a new magic trick, it is customary to respect their privilege (not a right) to use it exclusively unless they release it to the fraternity. In general, this exclusivity does not survive the death of the inventor (unfortunately, it often doesn't survive the shelf life of a loaf of bread, but that's another story . . .). This custom is useful and beneficial because the law doesn't provide a good method to protect magic tricks (but it does provide good methods to protect objects like Harbin's table, so why should the custom apply?)

Harbin's table is not a magic trick, Harbin is dead, any relevant patents he may have had on the table either have expired or never existed in the first place -- what possible obligation does anyone have to not build a similar table? If that obligation does exist, to whom is it owed? Who can release us from it?
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/23/10 01:38 AM

but Harbin didn't take "reasonable steps" to preserve the secrets therein once it was published, so they don't qualify as trade secrets.


The item was published in a book that required a signed, witnessed agreement not to divulge the material within; the plates to that book destroyed to prevent republication; and the item in question was specifically patented. If those don't qualify as "reasonable steps," what on earth would?

These concrete, rigorous steps didn't simply protect the rights of Harbin, who is dead, but the exclusive rights of the original purchasers, some of whom are still alive.

N.

P.S.

To get a sense for the specific rights protected through contract with the purchaser, here is the text of the agreement signed and witnessed by each purchaser prior to having the book sent to them:

Agreement

Magic of Robert Harbin

Published June 1970 and printed by C.W. Mole & Sons Ltd., 526 Watford Way, London, N.W.7, England.

This book is the copyright of the Author Robert Harbin. Reproduction of its contents either wholly or in part is strictly forbidden. All rights for the manufacture or making up of items published in the book are strictly reserved. Its conditions of sale are subject to the following undertakings:--

(a) That the purchaser will not divulge any of the magical secrets contained in the book.

(b) That for a period of two years from the date of publication of the book in June 1970 the purchaser agrees not to lend the book out, to give it away, offer it for sale, donate, sell or lend same to any Magical Society for the common use of its members or dispose of it in any way to a third party without first obtaining in writing the consent of the Author.

(c) The cannot be purchased for the use of any public library.

(d) That the purchaser will not manufacture or make up any of the items published in the book except for his own personal and exclusive use.

(e) That the purchaser will not at any lecture, demonstration or talk make use of any of the material contained in the book.

In breach of any of the above undertakings the Author reserves the right to institute such legal proceedings as may be necessary in protection of his interests.

TO BE SIGNED BY THE PURCHASER.

I have read the above conditions of sale of MAGIC OF ROBERT HARBIN and I solemnly agree to be bound by them.

Signed

Name in block letters and Professional name (if any)

Address

Witness

Address

Date

This agreement must be signed, witnessed an returned to Robert Harbin, 65 Clarence Gate Gdns, London, N.W.1, England, before the purchaser is permitted to take possession of the book.
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Postby erdnasephile » 02/23/10 05:21 AM

I believe (and I could be wrong, so any attorneys out there correct me please), part of maintaining copyright is that the rights holders have to demonstrate that they act to protect the copyright from infringement after publication over time (regardless of what the original agreement was). This would include legal action against any infringers, etc.

If the rights holders don't actively defend their copyright, then the copyright can be challenged. (I think that's the rationale for the USPCC's new policy to avoid printing any back variations to help show an aggressive defense of their copyrighted back designs.)

On a somewhat tangential note: for those who actually own the Harbin book--do you consider it an essential part of your practical magic library--i.e. do you perform the pieces described therein and/or utilize the concepts/theory in the book in your performances? Or is it a book you work real hard to own, admire it, put it on the shelf, and don't reread it ever again?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/23/10 07:42 AM

If we continue to rationalize using others work without permission it's going to be a tough seeking respect as an art or craft. So far it seems that if someone hears about an item then reconstructs it from that description and offers that reconstruction for sale - any customer of that item can refine and sell a derivative work - both with impunity and at worst some hand-wringing from the folks who make noise about morals/ethics.

IMHO as long as folks insist on a right to copy others it won't be too much more that ironic to hide behind law pertaining to copyright.

IMHO we can do better. Presuming someone can give you the rights to an item which was copied from another who is now long dead is ... strange - the stuff of ghost stories and cursed treasures seeking a money laundry.
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Postby erdnasephile » 02/23/10 08:15 AM

Please let me be clear--my post was NOT an attempt to rationalize theft. I was commenting only in response to NCMarsh's comment/question (i.e., what would comprise "reasonable steps")

Unethical behavior is unethical behavior regardless of what the legal technicalities are.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/23/10 08:41 AM

erdnasephile wrote:Please let me be clear--my post was NOT an attempt to rationalize theft. I was commenting only in response to NCMarsh's comment/question (i.e., what would comprise "reasonable steps")

Unethical behavior is unethical behavior regardless of what the legal technicalities are.


Kindly keep in mind that the very notion of good is: That which gets rewarded. Such is a basic tenet of ethics - the good habits of a society. For those who have not read Aristotle's Ethics - more awaits the critical reader. Enjoy.

So the good of the market outweighs any respect for the few and may sometimes justify the veneration of the one?
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Postby erdnasephile » 02/23/10 09:40 AM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:So the good of the market outweighs any respect for the few and may sometimes justify the veneration of the one?


I hope that neither of my posts would be misunderstood to support this notion, as I do not support this position.

At this point, I'll leave the rest of this discussion to more enthusiastic philosophers than I.
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 02/23/10 09:51 AM

Going back to the table for a second, I own a harbin table, that my parents bought me from Davenports, at around the time of Harbins death.( i was about 15 at the time, and was just starting working on stage).I doubt that a company like Davenprts would of ripped off Harbin, so presumably some manufacturing rights were out there.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/23/10 09:53 AM

funny that, as the introduction to the "erdnase" text makes the case for publication and explaination of other people's work without permission (or betraying confidences -ie a support for entrusted secrets) pretty clearly.

Your continued support for the good is what permits it to persist.

Anyone got an answer to Umpa? IMHO he could likely get what he asked for with a simple email.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/23/10 09:56 AM

Dale Shrimpton wrote:...I doubt that a company like Davenprts would of ripped off Harbin, ...Dale


Dale, asking the folks at Davenports might be a good lead to something that clarifies the rights on that item. Thanks.
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/23/10 10:59 AM

From Alan Shaxon, via email:

Firstly regarding the book "Magic of Robert Harbin". The `rights` to this book are held by The Magic Circle,
who have stated that they will uphold Harbin`s wish that the book not be reprinted.

With regard to the items within the book, whatever the legal or ethical standpoint, the simple fact now is that most of these have been made and marketed, including his "Packaway Table" in various versions. I have his original model, along with many of the props within the book, and have come to expect that these have now come into the `magical domain`. Personally I get really upset only when copies are made and marketed, without the makers giving credit to the originator.

To my knowledge there are no family members of Robert Harbin left, who could in any event expect to benefit
from any copyright issues in this regard. The book itself is another matter. In his will I understand that he left `all my books` to the British Origami Society, who accepted that this was not intended to include the private publication of "The Magic of Robert Harbin". The British Origami Society subsequently agreed to pass the `rights` of this book to The Magic Circle, in order to maintain the wish of the author that it not be republished.
The British Origami Society of course have benefitted hugely from the worldwide publication of his origami books and presumably continue to do so.

It is only my personal view, but after all this time, one has to accept that Harbin`s magic and illusions within the book will continue to be produced, and marketed, BUT let us all see credit given to the man who invented all these! This does not apply to a number of his illusions which were not included within the book. like
The Blades of Opah 2, Aunt Matilda`s Cabinet and his Aztec Girl. John Gaughan has the rights to the former, and Chris Woodward has the rights to the other two and quite rightly they expect these to be respected.

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Postby David Alexander » 02/23/10 12:34 PM

The Magic Circle has the rights to the Harbin book because the British Origami Society would not make a decision to let my old publishing company issue a large-format paperback edition of the Harbin book.

For almost three years I worked hard to get the rights to produce a legitimate edition and was repeatedly told by the lawyer who was the president of the British Origami Society that they were "going to have a meeting" on this matter and "get back to me." I even made a transatlantic phone call to that man to get the matter resolved.

I took the position that Harbin published well-before magic became widely popular and, more importantly (and realistically)the book was readily available in pirated form at magic conventions and under the table at certain dealers. The counterfeiters benefitted, not Harbins literary heirs. I wasn't certain even then that the book hadn't fallen into the public domain by the lack of copyright enforcement, but I wanted my edition to be legitimate so I could advertise openly.

I offered them a generous royalty and exclusive selling rights in the UK so the book could be produced legitimately and benefit them. Publishing legitimately and selling at a reasonable price would deflate most of the pirates.

After almost three years they finally responded by handing rights over to the Magic Circle.

Its been 40 years since the book was published. I do not know of any case where either the British Origami Society or the Magic Circle pursued copyists or counterfeiters of this book or supposedly un-authorized manufacturers of the items described inside. If no one protected Harbins copyright or the rights of those who bought the book who supposedly received some sort of exclusivity then I would suggest that by law it is highly likely that the material is in the public domain. See Bill Mullins post for further details.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/23/10 01:07 PM

erdnasephile wrote:I believe (and I could be wrong, so any attorneys out there correct me please), part of maintaining copyright is that the rights holders have to demonstrate that they act to protect the copyright from infringement after publication over time (regardless of what the original agreement was). This would include legal action against any infringers, etc.

If the rights holders don't actively defend their copyright, then the copyright can be challenged. (I think that's the rationale for the USPCC's new policy to avoid printing any back variations to help show an aggressive defense of their copyrighted back designs.)


What you are talking about applies to trademarks, but not copyrights.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/23/10 01:29 PM

NCMarsh wrote:
but Harbin didn't take "reasonable steps" to preserve the secrets therein once it was published, so they don't qualify as trade secrets.


The item was published in a book that required a signed, witnessed agreement not to divulge the material within; the plates to that book destroyed to prevent republication; and the item in question was specifically patented. If those don't qualify as "reasonable steps," what on earth would?



But once the plates were destroyed, he didn't take any concrete "reasonable steps" afterwards -- he stopped acting as if the contents were trade secrets, to be protected. He didn't do anything to attempt to enforce those provisions within the book (civil suits against copyists, or purchasers who divulged the contents, or who commercially made the illusions, etc) after the publication (at least, not that I know about, and I'd be happy to be proven wrong). Plus, he publicly performed Zig Zag after the book, so it's hard to say he treated it as a "trade secret". (See Abracadabra #1345, p 297, where he did it on TV).


These concrete, rigorous steps didn't simply protect the rights of Harbin, who is dead, but the exclusive rights of the original purchasers, some of whom are still alive.


But that's just it -- they didn't protect the rights of the purchasers, they restricted the rights of purchasers. The only way Harbin could have protected the rights was to continue to treat the illusion as a "trade secret", but he didn't do so.



To get a sense for the specific rights protected through contract with the purchaser, here is the text of the agreement signed and witnessed by each purchaser prior to having the book sent to them:

Agreement

Magic of Robert Harbin

Published June 1970 and printed by C.W. Mole & Sons Ltd., 526 Watford Way, London, N.W.7, England.

This book is the copyright of the Author Robert Harbin. Reproduction of its contents either wholly or in part is strictly forbidden. All rights for the manufacture or making up of items published in the book are strictly reserved. Its conditions of sale are subject to the following undertakings:--

(a) That the purchaser will not divulge any of the magical secrets contained in the book.

(b) That for a period of two years from the date of publication of the book in June 1970 the purchaser agrees not to lend the book out, to give it away, offer it for sale, donate, sell or lend same to any Magical Society for the common use of its members or dispose of it in any way to a third party without first obtaining in writing the consent of the Author.

(c) The cannot be purchased for the use of any public library.

(d) That the purchaser will not manufacture or make up any of the items published in the book except for his own personal and exclusive use.

(e) That the purchaser will not at any lecture, demonstration or talk make use of any of the material contained in the book.

In breach of any of the above undertakings the Author reserves the right to institute such legal proceedings as may be necessary in protection of his interests.

TO BE SIGNED BY THE PURCHASER.

I have read the above conditions of sale of MAGIC OF ROBERT HARBIN and I solemnly agree to be bound by them.

Signed

Name in block letters and Professional name (if any)

Address

Witness

Address

Date

This agreement must be signed, witnessed an returned to Robert Harbin, 65 Clarence Gate Gdns, London, N.W.1, England, before the purchaser is permitted to take possession of the book.


Thanks for reprinting this (and I note, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that you may be violating Harbin's copyright by republishing the agreement here). It's pretty clear that Harbin is only restricting access to the information for two years -- after that, he doesn't attempt to control the information within, and he is aware that the "secrets" within will get out. He is retaining manufacturing rights, but since he hadn't patented or otherwise obtained legal protection for much of the material, it's not clear that this retention has any meaning other than the courtesy commonly granted and accepted among magicians.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/23/10 01:36 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:If we continue to rationalize using others work without permission it's going to be a tough seeking respect as an art or craft. So far it seems that if someone hears about an item then reconstructs it from that description and offers that reconstruction for sale - any customer of that item can refine and sell a derivative work - both with impunity and at worst some hand-wringing from the folks who make noise about morals/ethics.


Jon -- as long as we are talking about magic tricks, I don't disagree at all.

But this discussion was about the table, which isn't a magic trick -- it's a clever and attractive way of folding up the supports for a table surface. The law allowed Harbin to protect his table with utility patents and Design patents (called simply "designs" within the UK), and if he ever did so, they would have expired by now. The table is in the public domain. If you don't believe this is so, you shouldn't drive cars, operate washing machines, or use pretty much anything built since the start of the industrial revolution which is built on the "prior art" of expired patents.
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Postby NCMarsh » 02/23/10 02:36 PM

It's pretty clear that Harbin is only restricting access to the information for two years


The only item with the two year limit is (b) and it refers to transfer of ownership of the book itself. It certainly doesn't grant manufacturing rights to everyone after two years.

he publicly performed Zig Zag after the book, so it's hard to say he treated it as a "trade secret".


The construction and method are the trade secrets. Performing the routine, of course, has nothing to do with retention of those trade secrets.

He didn't do anything to attempt to enforce those provisions within the book (civil suits against copyists, or purchasers who divulged the contents, or who commercially made the illusions, etc) after the publication (at least, not that I know about, and I'd be happy to be proven wrong).


The argument as I understand it:

1. I don't know if Harbin took legal action against copyists
2. Therefore he probably didn't take legal action against copyists.
3. Therefore he didn't protect the secrets.
4. Therefore we are free to do what we want with his work.

Let's grant 1. and 2. for a moment, just to see if they are even necessary (and I think they do invite the question: why should "I don't know what he did" lead to a default position of "he did nothing?")

On 3. and 4.:

There is a scene in, I believe, the Paradiso (it's been awhile so it may have been Purgatorio) in which Dante and Beatrice find a nun who had been raped and -- as a consequence -- cannot enter heaven. The explanation is that she had made an oath of chastity, and that by allowing herself to be raped -- rather than resisting to the death -- she violated her oath.

The leap from 3 to 4 seems like similar thinking: it is the victim's responsibility to repel the attack, and if Harbin didn't invest massive time and legal expense to go after every bootlegger; well, that's his fault...

That line of thinking makes sense in the world of commercial service and trademarks -- from which it comes, as correctly noted by Bill Mullins above. But in a small, collegial community of magicians?

Do we really say: yes you took extraordinary (unprecedented!) steps to protect this information, yes people paid a large sum -- in good faith -- for the exclusive rights to that information, but you may not have buried yourself in debt with uncertain legal challenges; so we're not going to honor your clear wishes for your property....

Now, I think Alan Shaxon may be right; and that -- in practice -- the material may have entered public domain...if that is the case, then I think the correct source of that material should again be published...

I have yet to personally see a "Harbin" chair suspension that is made to the actual tolerances, and has the actual features, of the one described in the book...I have seen commercially available Zig-Zag Girl plans that lack a critical detail in the middle section of the box (NOT the tummy opening -- I'm referring to a mechanical detail that really sells the optical illusion, and is missing from many versions I've seen, and of which I was unaware before reading Harbin's write-up)..

If we have decided that the Harbin material is out of the box, let's bring it out of the box and have a bit more certainty that something with the name "Harbin" on it actually represents the extent of Harbin's work with the idea (indeed, there is a "Warning" at the beginning of the book about not building the props exactly as described, and urging the reader to first build and work with the prop as described before "improving" it -- this was clearly close to Harbin's heart)...

Ignoring one clear wish of Harbin's (that the rights to perform and make the material be strictly limited to those who had paid for them), while granting another (that the book remain unpublished), seems to result in a situation where the material with his name on it does not represent the full depth of his work...and I have trouble seeing this as the best outcome

Best,

N.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/23/10 02:53 PM

David Alexander wrote:It was, possibly, a design patent . . .


In the UK, what we call a "design Patent" is called simply a "design", I believe. Since the quote uses the word "patent", it probaly refers to a utility patent.
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Postby David Alexander » 02/23/10 05:25 PM

This is all deja vu as we've had this discussion back in January of 2008see: http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubb ... ber=111264

The Magic Circle will continue to withhold official permission to republish thinking the copyright they own means something and the pirates will continue to sell Xerox copies while Harbins wishes continue to be observed and his name becomes more and more unconnected with his creations.

While I believe that a good case could be made that the books copyright was made moot years ago no one wants to go to the bother and grief of producing an above-ground edition. It would be difficult to market as the handful of magic magazines probably wouldn't sell advertising space to the publisher.

And to the original question that started this thread - even if Harbin had design protection on the various effects in his book (and there's been no evidence presented that he ever took that step) the book was published 40 years ago and any such protection he may have had has long expired. Build your tables and don't lose any sleep over it.
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Postby jadmas » 08/25/14 03:28 AM

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Postby Q. Kumber » 08/25/14 05:44 AM

The Harbin Pack-Away Table first appeared in Abracadabra magazine in 1965 and later in the book Harbincadabra published by Goodliffe after Harbin's death. At the end of the full description, Harbin says, "I hope you will use it".

He also mentions how Billy McComb used it - for the table to fall out of a magazine. As a side note, Billy found the spring hinges difficult to make or work with so he used elastic.

It did also, later, appear in the book, MAGIC of Robert Harbin, where it was simply part of the production from Harbin's production box.
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