A Hypothetical Website That I May or May Not Have Discovered

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Postby TJay » 07/11/10 10:53 PM

Let's say, hypothetically, you stumbled across a non-US site housing a library of magic videos. No lengthy downloads . . . just press play, then watch everything from Kaufman On The Pass to the entire collection of eLLusionist and Theory11 tutorials.

Would you watch these videos? (Be Honest) Would you tell anybody else?

Speaking hypothetically of course . . .
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/11/10 11:02 PM

No to both questions.

IMHO, obtaining knowledge that I have no right to have is stealing, regardless of whether or not a download is involved.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/12/10 09:30 AM

Hypothetically, old news. Hypothetically just one of the reasons some of us think it wrong to be perspicuous in ones writing/demonstrating magic at this time. Or quoting a song from a play with lots of magic:

Careful the things you say, children will listen.
Careful the things you do, children will see. And learn....
Careful the tale you tell. That is the spell.
-Stephen Sondheim
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Postby mrgoat » 07/12/10 09:42 AM

Or you could have just said:

"Is it OK to steal other people's work?"

And the answer would be no.

It's not hard, really, is it, this "morals" malarkey?
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Postby mrgoat » 07/12/10 10:04 AM

Mr T, as you may be aware, the PM system is borked so I cannot reply to you there. The only reason my post is showing as related to yours is because it is under it. No other reason. I was replying to the OP, not to you. Sorry for the confusion.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/12/10 10:15 AM

Don't support theft. It doesn't matter if it's free, it's still theft.
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Postby TJay » 07/12/10 12:10 PM

The question as to whether watching these videos constitutes "stealing" is an uninteresting one, from my perspective. The question as to what magicians will do when confronted with a library of magic videos that play at the press of a button - particularly in a situation where they remain anonymous and suffer no legal retribution for "stealing" - is what I'm concerned with.

You may wish to remain on a moral high-horse and claim you would not watch these videos but, come on. Really?

I think many of us would just hit the play button and justify the "stealing" as "previewing" or make a promise to contribute to the industry in some other way, i.e. "I won't purchase John's 3-volume L&L DVD Set, but next time I see him I'll take him out to lunch."

As to Mr. Townsend's comment above . . . I'm not really sure what to make of it. Does he suggest I be LESS perspicuous and simply provide a link to the site? This is silly. I avoided doing this because it would only exacerbate the problem. More people will know about it. More people will give into temptation.

But if it's "old news" . . . what's the harm?
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Postby Hannibal » 07/12/10 12:13 PM

The answer is no. I would not press the play button.

I would also report the site.
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Postby Frank Dudgeon » 07/12/10 12:25 PM

No, I would not press the play button. As Mr. Kaufman states, that would be supporting theft. So morally it's the wrong thing to do.

As a purely pragmatic decision, if I encourage theft, I discourage creators from releasing more of their creations in the future. Seems like it would be a pretty stupid thing to do.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/12/10 12:36 PM

The issue of copyright is distinct from that of the "value" of a magic item by way of its "secrets". The former is a larger issue on our larger society at this time. The latter, that of "secrets" as product is a long standing (festering) issue in magic and its airing may permit some progress in the matter. If one wishes to respect "secrets" then ... well that opens up some awkward discussions. Let's proceed to the matter as you raised it:

TJay wrote:...As to Mr. Townsend's comment above . . . I'm not really sure what to make of it. Does he suggest I be LESS perspicuous and simply provide a link to the site? This is silly. I avoided doing this because it would only exacerbate the problem. More people will know about it. More people will give into temptation.

But if it's "old news" . . . what's the harm?


TJay, in this craft of secrets and at a time when books and videos are being uploaded for all and sundry to peruse, it seems odd if not wrong to write in plaintext - to be perspicuous, at least for now.

While our market has vendors selling "secrets", having their wares made available online for review can be construed as a harm.
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/12/10 12:43 PM

TJay wrote: You may wish to remain on a moral high-horse and claim you would not watch these videos but, come on. Really?


Yes, really.

Personally, I value my integrity more than purloined information.

What is perhaps more disturbing is the apparent disbelief that there might actually be those who would avoid taking something they could easily get away with.

Very sad, indeed.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/12/10 01:29 PM

Curious position there "erdnasephile", as "erdnase" contains 'secrets' which were taken from the gambling community. And tricks taken from others not in the gambling community. Does it not also include a color change from Houdini?
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/12/10 02:01 PM

Touche, Jonathan

Establishing absolute provenential purity when it comes to such things is nigh impossible--so your point is well taken.

However, partaking of magic videos that are illegally posted on-line shouldn't be such a difficult ethical dilemma, IMHO.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/12/10 02:12 PM

just as difficult as watching TV where detective shows explain how criminals "did it" or reading books where authors laud folks who and how they 'did it' - say Robert-Houdin and his strength sapping or that guy who cut up a bearskin to cover a huge territory?

?? "absolute provenential purity" - when not even permission was given nor citation provided? What then for all works which cite such items after they are in print? Just as bad? Or worse for using growing from such ground knowingly? Or those who would sell such works?

Remember - ethics are the good habits of a city-state - and good is by definition - "that which gets rewarded". So, Aristotle, just what is "the good" in our city state?

BTW, the button question reminds me of a good story. I wonder if anyone who got the box asked "what would be different for that person if I did not push that button?". Hmmm. ;)
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Postby mrgoat » 07/12/10 02:25 PM

TJay wrote:The question as to whether watching these videos constitutes "stealing" is an uninteresting one, from my perspective.


Shame, as that really is the key to the debate. If nothing is being stolen, then there is no problem, right? So end of thread?

TJay wrote: The question as to what magicians will do when confronted with a library of magic videos that play at the press of a button - particularly in a situation where they remain anonymous and suffer no legal retribution for "stealing" - is what I'm concerned with.


Everyone else in the world thinks that is stealing though. That's the issue you face. You are talking semantics about getting a magician's work without paying the person that made it.

And that, Sir, is wrong. However it happens.

TJay wrote:You may wish to remain on a moral high-horse and claim you would not watch these videos but, come on. Really?


Yup. Really. Let me tell you a story. Years ago I had a hacked SNES. I was Daddy Cool. I had drawers of floppy discs with EVERY SNES game available on. I have them all. How many did I actually play more than a couple of levels of? None. How much did I miss out on? Everything.

Same with magic videos. If you did have access to every magic video ever, then you would a) not watch them all b) not learn from them.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/12/10 02:35 PM

That's funny, as I was going to ask if a copy of Neive's "Merrie Companion" was available or the book with the illustration showing the overhand grip Double Lift.

Anyone care to tell what book has a proper description of the coin sleight "le Tournequet"? (- not that thing we call "the french drop" - )

Does it really matter to 'the secret' if it's given away via a product video or someone's YouTube posting?

If time can be written, what then of all that unhistory?
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Postby JHostler » 07/13/10 06:56 AM

Let's extend the question...

If we assume (as above, to a degree) that secrets are "property," would viewing a demo video repeatedly - for the purpose of deconstructing a method - constitute theft? Of course, I'm sure none of us are guilty of such trespass... but let's approach this theoretically. (And yes, I realize the visual content of a demo is generally offered free of charge... but let's not focus on criminality or copyright. We're talking ethics...)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/13/10 07:44 AM

Ethics, John, is about "the good" - and a thing is good if it leads to rewards. Next question?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby mrgoat » 07/13/10 08:46 AM

John Hostler wrote:would viewing a demo video repeatedly - for the purpose of deconstructing a method - constitute theft?


No.
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Postby Mike Masaveg » 07/13/10 10:04 AM

I think its easy to say "I would absolutely not hit the play button" because the situation is hypothetical. When faced with the actual situation however the actual action may be quite different from the answer given here. I am going to hazard a guess and say that probably 99.999% of the people that post or read this forum have at one time or another had a photocopied manuscript or lecture note or a copied video tape or DVD (magic or otherwise) in their possession. Or, for that matter borrowed a tape, dvd, or book from friend gained knowledge from that item and never compensated the original creator which is more in line with what the original question was stating.

I wonder how this thread would look if the question were posed on a forum for doctors and surgeons and went something like this: " Let's say, hypothetically, you stumbled across a non-US site housing a library of medical videos. No lengthy downloads . . . just press play, then watch everything from advanced emergency life saving techniques to the entire collection of cardiac surgeries". I highly doubt there would be all the chest thumping "I would never..." responses that this question is receiving.

Illegal duplication, piracy, whatever you want to call it has always been around and it always will be. I wish the magic community were as passionate about stopping poor quality public performances of magic as it is about some kid that exposes a double lift on youTube.

Just my 2 cents
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/13/10 10:42 AM

To click or not to click, that is the question?You know you want to.
It's such a shiny red button.
Come on, press the button.

Mike, what folks are reacting to, by and large, are the most obvious side effects of a product inflation bubble and the economics attendant with the sale of 'secrets' in an environment where gossip can spread at the speed of light. The product inflation - sale of student level homework - as retail product - has its own problems. The sale of 'secrets' as product has other problems. A perfect storm of a sort which may well require adopting serious academic standards on works and greatly reduce our working literature (though likely increase our ephemera) to items worthy of being kept away from an open market.

Not that I care whether we have a new Hello Kitty line of magic product aimed at fashion conscious young women who wish to amaze as well as practice flirting - or a new line of emo product which offers classic tricks in goth black and subdued colors to fit in with that crowd.

Getting back to this hypothetical site which makes the already available process of getting what you want via the internet even easier via streaming content, a few suggestions:
1) Lose the 'secrets' stuff in branding/marketing.
2) Put the performance sections of video works up there for review
3) Make sure tutorial aspect of the product is correct and complete
4) Make the purchase of the tutorial aspects of the product a separate process
5) Make sure the entire cost of ownership/usage of a product is made known to the customer before starting the purchase process.

Do those things and just maybe some extant video product will survive the current storm. Maybe. The crediting/permission to use works of living inventors will likely sink many such otherwise viable products but it's still worth the effort if we don't want to revert back to direct mentorship or forward to a network of trust/reputation.

Button, button indeed. The magic market finds itself inside a Richard Matheson story.
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Reason: links added - gotta love ren and stimpy :)
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Postby JHostler » 07/13/10 11:19 AM

John Hostler wrote:Let's extend the question...

If we assume (as above, to a degree) that secrets are "property," would viewing a demo video repeatedly - for the purpose of deconstructing a method - constitute theft? Of course, I'm sure none of us are guilty of such trespass... but let's approach this theoretically. (And yes, I realize the visual content of a demo is generally offered free of charge... but let's not focus on criminality or copyright. We're talking ethics...)


Allow me to rephrase for the slight-of-mind:

Why do you assume it unethical to "obtain secrets without paying for them" through one activity but not the other? Because deconstruction requires more effort? Again, I'm asking from an ethical - not legal - perspective.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/13/10 11:23 AM

John, what do you mean by ethical?
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Postby JHostler » 07/13/10 11:42 AM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:John, what do you mean by ethical?


What do you mean by "mean?"
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/13/10 11:47 AM

John Hostler wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:John, what do you mean by ethical?


What do you mean by "mean?"


well we could start here and ...

What a cute setup. :) In your case the word may well serve for base and a low standard of argumentation. The history of magic, who gets lauded and who gets paid suffices to illustrate "the good" - and ethics is the pattern of "good habits" in a society. Therefore doing what "the greats and well paid" have done is by definition "good" and therefore "ethical". Therefore it is good and ethical to sell other people's tricks, steal their apparatus and even get onstage to inspect whatever items you were not able to puzzle out from repeated viewing.

Next question?
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Reason: nothing so unkind as to choose the mean.
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Postby Brandon Hall » 07/13/10 12:25 PM

Ones character is defined by what we do when no one is watching.
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/13/10 12:39 PM

Brandon Hall wrote:Ones character is defined by what we do when no one is watching.

And who we quote without citing?

Friggen bogons all over the place with versions of that line. From Anathem: "The functionality of [internet] still exists for every legitimate document floating around on the [internet], there are hundreds or thousands of bogus versionsbogons as we call them." The book uses a different term for [internet].
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Reason: cited a work
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Postby JHostler » 07/13/10 06:23 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
John Hostler wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:John, what do you mean by ethical?


What do you mean by "mean?"


well we could start here and ...

What a cute setup. :) In your case the word may well serve for base and a low standard of argumentation. The history of magic, who gets lauded and who gets paid suffices to illustrate "the good" - and ethics is the pattern of "good habits" in a society. Therefore doing what "the greats and well paid" have done is by definition "good" and therefore "ethical". Therefore it is good and ethical to sell other people's tricks, steal their apparatus and even get onstage to inspect whatever items you were not able to puzzle out from repeated viewing.

Next question?


My original inquiry was a serious one. Your response... well, I'm sure it means something to someone. However, it fails entirely to address a fairly straightforward ethical question concerning the procurement of secrets.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/13/10 07:15 PM

John, if words like "good" and "rewarded" don't work for you - perhaps the way out of the mire in this the subject may have to remain a secret to you as well. Funny the way we keep secrets from ourselves. What elephant?

To life, and as JonR puts it - onward
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Brandon Hall » 07/15/10 11:08 AM

Jon,

It's translated from the TORAH.
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Postby erdnasephile » 07/15/10 01:38 PM

John Hostler wrote:Let's extend the question...

If we assume (as above, to a degree) that secrets are "property," would viewing a demo video repeatedly - for the purpose of deconstructing a method - constitute theft? Of course, I'm sure none of us are guilty of such trespass... but let's approach this theoretically. (And yes, I realize the visual content of a demo is generally offered free of charge... but let's not focus on criminality or copyright. We're talking ethics...)


Hi, John: It's an interesting question. IMHO, if the demo is posted by the originator than repeated viewings would seem to be the reasonable expectation for the creator (as opposed to others posting the work illegally as in the original scenario described by the OP). If that repeated viewing allows deconstruction, then that would seem to be part of the risk of posting.

However, I don't believe that figuring out a routine gives one the right to go and perform it. Therefore, it has been my practice that if I'm going to use the information in a case like this, I just go ahead and purchase the item in question. If the material is not for sale, I don't use it.

(To be clear: there's no chest thumping intended here--this is just my personal take on the issue. It is entirely possible split hairs here by taking things to philosophical extremes, but I try my best to behave how I would wish others to do if I had created the material in question. That may not be the perfect solution (and it certainly doesn't make me any better than anyone else), but it's what I've settled on.)
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