Stepping on toes?

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Star Dust » 04/23/11 09:57 AM

I'm a 43 year old Australian, new to the practice of magic. I recently joined a local performing arts centre beginners magic class. One of the tricks I learned on my first night was a ring off rope number that we used two washers (instead of rings) for. First night jitters I guess, but I didn't realise it was generally a ring trick.

So I thought to practice at home, but had no washers. A little meditation and I noticed my two rings, a similar diameter to the hole size of the washers, so I gave them a try. Perfect.

This particular ring off rope trick has the rings knotted to the centre of the rope which is held at each end by volunteers, and the rings removed under cover of a cloth. As I experimented, I found it more interesting to take the rings from the rope and put them back on my ring finger. A better presentation to my taste than leaving them in the centre of my hand, which is what we did with the washers at the lesson.

As I thought more about it, I devised a presentation that I think might be appropriate for a wedding reception. It goes something like this:

We are gathered here today to tie the knot between this bride and this groom, symbolised by these two rings. Tie the first ring at the centre bend of the rope. Thread the second ring along from the other end until it reaches the place of the first knotted ring. Make another knot on the other side of the second ring to block it in with the first ring. We are gathered here to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.

Hand each end to the Bride and Groom, and place a cloth (with a flower pattern) over the rings that are hanging in the middle. Go to work extricating the rings. And so you underwent the ceremony most sacred to seal your blessed union. Place the rings on your finger under cover of the cloth.

When ready, throw the cloth in the air to reveal the rings on the finger signifying that it is legally done. You threw the bridal bouquet, walked down the church steps and into the world as a newly married couple


Ok, it needs to be fleshed out or dropped. I'm a novice and it was just a little exercise on my part. But it leaves me with a question I'm hoping to get a little insight on. The presentation is such an obvious extrapolation that I'm sure others have come up with the same idea before me. I don't know where because I'm still new at this and haven't read anywhere near enough. As such, the presentation is actually originally my own creation even if others did it before me. I got it from my own imagination.

So where do I stand ethically or legally that others probably did it first? If someone should say cease and desist for verily I didist it firsteth. The above presentation is nothing special, but I expect it could be an issue later if I come up with better work as I advance in magic. So I'm after a principle. Not in the creation of a totally (or so I thought) new prop, but rather the story presentation to which the trick is put.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

Darren Wurm
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/23/11 10:32 AM

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Postby Kardova » 04/23/11 02:24 PM

Hi Darren,

When it comes to your own personal advancement and performance of a trick just remember Dai Vernons two maxims, Be yourself and Use your head. It appears that you have already done both of these in your fleshing-out a wonderful presentation and context to your performance of a classic trick. You are to be commended for your expert beginner status. Nothing wrong has been done by using ones head and presenting something that suits ones own personal ingenuity and adaptations on a theme based on personal preference and experimentation.

I believe you have nothing to worry about as long as you dont begin to claim originality to such matters in print or word without first doing ones homework and research on the history of the effect. The minute you start thinking of marketing an effect and/or presentation of an effect as yours exclusively, you have entered the public domain of intellectual property and the responsibility that all that entails. It no longer becomes a claim to fame, or I got there first sort of game, but rather a respect for what has come before you. It becomes rather academic in this sense, if you respect the art and craft of magic enough to put in the time to see what has come before and asking questions like you have done. Is it a perfect process? No, and many who decide to go public, if they are honest with themselves, will make any form of sincere apologies if anyone has been overlooked and not mentioned. It is after all a collective effort on all our parts, being a community of sorts, very much like this forum. So instead of thinking of it as stepping on other magicians toes, think more of it like standing on the shoulders of those who came before.

Just have fun with the process and not be in such a hurry to publish anything anytime soon. God help us, we already have enough on our plates as it is.

All the best in your magical endeavors!
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Postby Star Dust » 04/23/11 05:49 PM

Thanks for the welcomes and advice. I'll never publish. Not that great a writer. But I do hope to perform some time, so it's good to look beyond the presentations to the peripherals, to know the legalities and technicalities. I imagine it has happened before that a sweet routine has been soured by such oversight before now.

Again thanks.
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Postby ariel61darby » 06/14/11 09:06 AM

I think you can share some of your short writings with us here. What say?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 06/14/11 09:10 AM

If you feel up to writing out what your motivations were and how you approached the scripting - that's more useful then just the end result script since it offers an example of "how" from which we can all learn rather than just the "what" which is custom tailored to your specific needs.
Mundus vult decipi
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