What can be done about counterfeit magic?

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby jwalkmagic » 01/29/13 12:37 PM

This problem just seems to be getting worse and worse.

I recently bought a small lot of Daryl items on eBay - where else.

As soon as I opened the package it was clear that one item - "The (W)hole Thing" was a counterfeit. I won't even grace it to say knock off. I contacted the seller and he accused me of all manner of things and suggested I go cry to my mother. In the end eBay ruled in my favor so I got my money back but they continue to allow him to sell on eBay.

He is currently offering "Kronos by Yves Doumergue" and from the photo it is also clearly a counterfeit - I suspect it and my counterfeit originated in China.

From all appearances the seller was just someone clearing out the clutter we all seem to collect. Because of this I did a little more digging and it seems like he is another dealer trying to pass himself off as one of the guys.

A couple of things surprise me about all of this.

1. How many different tricks seem to be outright counterfeited in China. I would not think there was enough of a market to make this worthwhile.

2. That eBay seems so willing to help in a individual case but so reluctant to boot a dealer like this off of eBay.

Is there for the magic community any place to report this so that dealers like this can be shut down? Right now there seem to be a "Who cares" attitude even amongst magicians.
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Postby Edward Pungot » 01/29/13 12:47 PM

Support the artists directly by buying directly through them or the publishers that they have partnered with.
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Postby Syd » 01/29/13 12:49 PM

I agree. The problem is a bad one. We even have domestic manufacturers who knock of quality magic with less than quality magic all the time. There is a difference between a knock-off and a counterfeit. If you ever compare one of George Robinson's brass pieces to a chinese knock off - it is like comparing a Cadillac to a Yugo (sorry if I offended any Yugo fans).

A knock off presumes to create the same effect, look the same, etc. A counterfeit attempts to pass itself off as the original.

That said, the answer to your questions becomes quite complicated. I am not sure what, if anything, Daryl did to protect (legally) his work. Even if he did, there may be little that can be done to a foreign manufacturer. There is little magic worth filing a patent on - although some magicians do actually protect their intellectual property through the US mechanisms.

The biggest problem is a practical one - the dollars involved in the creation and sale of magic (from an individual creator's prospective) make enforcement less than cost effective from a civil prospective. Even if you could find a criminal statute that had been violated, finding a DA to prosecute would be virtually impossible. Then the problem comes as to foreign defendants.

As to eBay - that is another discussion entirely....

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Postby jwalkmagic » 01/29/13 01:02 PM

While I think the items in question probably originated in China the dealer in question is located in the USA.

In the seller on eBay is supposed to be in Las Vegas while the items shipped from a shop in Texas. In looking at the web sight of this shop he does list The Whole Thing on his page at a huge discount over the list price.

I call these counterfeit because the packaging and all other materials clearly are designed to make the buyer think they are the original but fall very short in quality.

While a patent might not be practical copyrighting of printed and recorded material is much easier. Since Daryl himself is recorded on the enclosed DVD and it does carry the FBI warning I do suspect there are criminal statutes being violated.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 01/29/13 01:08 PM

Edward Pungot wrote:Support the artists directly by buying directly through them or the publishers that they have partnered with.


Edward

This was a case of me buying what was represented as used magic. This is something we all do. When it comes to new magic I try to stick to dealers who have a proven track record.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/29/13 01:11 PM

The problem is not just because things are made in China: often these things are being commisioned by well-known distributors in the United States. Mak Magic sells a copy of Losander's table for a fraction of the price. Several companies are selling copies of Tony Miller's beautiful handmade wallets--but these are glued together in China with cheap leather.

The ONLY way to combat the problem is to be prepared to PAY for quality and BUY from the originator who makes the product. Unfortunately only a small percentage of magicians do that.

(As far as people selling copies on eBay: you can get your money back, but you can't get them kicked off eBay because magic is not protected by law.)
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/29/13 07:04 PM

^^This.

Problem is, many magicians have so little understanding and respect for the creative process, they couldn't care less about buying a knock-off. (I just read some moron comment on a website that said that the poster was "forced" to download a pirated copy of a book because the actual book was priced too high. Really? :mad:)
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Postby JKeppel » 01/30/13 08:16 PM

A number of years ago my best friend Tom Yurasits created a trick based on the topsy Turvy bottles called Confusing crayons. He worked very hard on it and still manufactures and sells it. Last year a cheap copy started coming in from India called Silly Silly Crayons. They not only copied the trick, they made it in the exact same color scheme and copied Toms instructions word for word from the original. A number of Dealers stopped carrying it when Tom called them to explain that they were selling rip off copies. However some very well know dealers refused to stop selling the copy and several sell it to this day. One dealer even told Tom he would not stop selling it because "his tricks get copied too". What a nice attitude to have. I wont name the bums who are still selling it . All you have to do if you want to find out is google toms original "Confusing Crayons" and then the copy sometimes called "Silly Silly Crayons" and at other places just called "Silly crayon trick" I will say however that the guy making and importing these copies is Magicgoods.com. the guy has a brother in India who makes the stuff and ships it over. Im sure a lot of the other stuff on his site is conterfeit too.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/30/13 09:49 PM

When original instructions get copied verbatim, or original video footage is used, then you have copyright law on your side.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 01/31/13 12:05 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:When original instructions get copied verbatim, or original video footage is used, then you have copyright law on your side.


Then I have to wonder why more creators of magic don't pursue using copyright law? Since so many of these items are imported I.C.E. would be the investigating agency.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/31/13 03:40 PM

Because suing a violator isn't cost effective.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 01/31/13 04:53 PM

Is not the unauthorized production and importation of copyrighted material a violation of federal criminal law? That's what it says on every DVD I own.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/31/13 05:18 PM

Yes, it is a violation of federal law.

But it costs money to sue people and the law is designed to discourage that.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 01/31/13 05:20 PM

It cost nothing to file a criminal complaint.
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Postby Gordon Meyer » 01/31/13 06:18 PM

It also costs nothing to open a window and shout into the wind. And it wastes very little time.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 01/31/13 06:26 PM

Unlike shouting into the wind the authorities are required by law to investigate all legitimate complaints.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/31/13 06:33 PM

jwalkmagic wrote:Unlike shouting into the wind the authorities are required by law to investigate all legitimate complaints.


What you said there is funny.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 01/31/13 06:40 PM

Bill Mullins wrote:
jwalkmagic wrote:Unlike shouting into the wind the authorities are required by law to investigate all legitimate complaints.


What you said there is funny.


In what way?
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/01/13 01:00 AM

In the way that Federal Officers will laugh at you when you insist that they are required to investigate one magician copying the work of another. It won't happen, and it isn't required by law.

For all practical purposes, copyright violations are civil torts, not criminal actions (despite what the first screens on DVDs say). And that is probably the way it should be. If a case isn't big enough to justify the aggrieved party pursuing a lawsuit, then the FBI probably has bigger fish to fry as well.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/01/13 11:55 AM

We are not talking here about one magician copying the work of another. In the two tricks I have sighted we are talking about the copyrighted intellectual property of creators being copied in a foreign country and imported wholesale into the United States.

In this case it would be ICE and not the FBI who would investigate.

You say they will laugh at you but has anyone even tried? Is this a case where we all prefer to curse the dark than to light a candle?

I am not so foolish as to think one complaint will make the problem vanish (excuse the pun) but to do nothing only lets it grow.

We all know vendors who import and sell these items. Certainly those who create magic become aware when there works are stolen outright. They would have greater standing to file a complaint than me as someone who has observed this.

Lets say that enough of us were to report observed violations that ICE or the FBI were to follow up. What then? The dealer could of course cry ignorance and escape prosecution. What he can not do is keep the counterfeit item.

Just as if he had gotten a counterfeit bill in the register. The items in question are to be confiscated by the investigating agency. This at least will send a signal that dealing with questionable will cost more than it makes for you.

Of course investigating agencies are not going to go out and look for violators. They can only act if these things are reported to them.

So this may be part of the answer I was seeking. Magicians as a community are unwilling to take a stand.

If you still don't think this can happen just Google "Counterfeit Goods Seized".
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Postby mrgoat » 02/01/13 12:22 PM

Take a stand then. Contact ICE and the FBI. Report back what happened.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/01/13 12:31 PM

I have filled out the form on the ICE web sight.

Like I said I am only one voice. Unless those who create the magic and the rest of us choose to follow through then we are truly just cursing the darkness.
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Postby mrgoat » 02/01/13 01:53 PM

Start a campaign, send press releases to all the magic websites, they will all run it. Set up a wordpress blog and get support.

I'm not cursing the darkness, but think trying to fight such activity is futile as it won't be stopped.

However, rallying support for complaining is made VERY easy with the internet and especially so with a closed small niche group like magi.


Good luck.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/01/13 02:13 PM

mrgoat wrote:Start a campaign, send press releases to all the magic websites, they will all run it. Set up a wordpress blog and get support.

I'm not cursing the darkness, but think trying to fight such activity is futile as it won't be stopped.

However, rallying support for complaining is made VERY easy with the internet and especially so with a closed small niche group like magi.


Good luck.


A little like saying "there will always be house fires so why bother having a fire department?"

I thought one of the reasons for a forum like this was to inform and rally support.

We also have the question of standing.

I can report these matters when I see them as can anyone for that matter. But the people who have true standing are the inventors and creators. This is money taken out of their pockets so again I fail to understand why more of them do not file complaints against those who import and sell what are clearly counterfeits.

If I am wrong. If magic is somehow exempted from the same protections as other intellectual property then can someone sight me the specific law or decision that makes it so.
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Postby Tim Ellis » 02/01/13 04:43 PM

Several years ago I started a blog called MAGIC FAKERS http://magicfakers.blogspot.com.au/ to bring this issue to the attention of the magic community.

At the time, several well known US magic companies were commissioning knock offs of top selling tricks and releasing them as cheaper "new" effects. I simply put up the "new" item side by side with the "original" item and many magicians AND magic store owners emailed me saying how helpful they found the site.

Many were unaware of the knock off situation and many dealers stopped buying the copies from those manufacturers.

I received emails of support from the original creators and LOTS of threats from the manufacturers of the knock offs.

Unfortunately, in the last two years the problem has spiralled out of control with Chinese companies like KingMagic and 52Magic setting themselves up as wholesale AND retail outlets and flooding the market with cheap knockoffs AND counterfeits being passed off as the real thing.

I have tried combating KingMagic through the legal channels of Paypal to no avail.

When Paypal, or even Ebay, stands to make money through the large number of transactions a company like this makes every day it's unlikely they will cut them off from using their services.

The only thing we can do is to make our community aware of these rip off dealers and manufacturers and yes, SOME members of our community will be delighted to discover a source of "cheap magic", but hopefully the majority will understand that supporting these people will drive creators out of our industry and they will stick to purchasing through ethical dealers only.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/03/13 01:02 PM

Tim Ellis wrote:Several years ago I started a blog called MAGIC FAKERS http://magicfakers.blogspot.com.au/ to bring this issue to the attention of the magic community.

At the time, several well known US magic companies were commissioning knock offs of top selling tricks and releasing them as cheaper "new" effects. I simply put up the "new" item side by side with the "original" item and many magicians AND magic store owners emailed me saying how helpful they found the site.

Many were unaware of the knock off situation and many dealers stopped buying the copies from those manufacturers.

I received emails of support from the original creators and LOTS of threats from the manufacturers of the knock offs.

Unfortunately, in the last two years the problem has spiralled out of control with Chinese companies like KingMagic and 52Magic setting themselves up as wholesale AND retail outlets and flooding the market with cheap knockoffs AND counterfeits being passed off as the real thing.

I have tried combating KingMagic through the legal channels of Paypal to no avail.

When Paypal, or even Ebay, stands to make money through the large number of transactions a company like this makes every day it's unlikely they will cut them off from using their services.

The only thing we can do is to make our community aware of these rip off dealers and manufacturers and yes, SOME members of our community will be delighted to discover a source of "cheap magic", but hopefully the majority will understand that supporting these people will drive creators out of our industry and they will stick to purchasing through ethical dealers only.


That is perhaps the main problem with eBay and the reason more magicians I know are no longer using eBay. I am certainly entertaining that option.

I have learned recently that the only way eBay will act on intellectual property infringements is through their VeRO (Verified Registered Owner) program. I essence they will only listen if you are the owner of the copyright or trademark and are registered with eBay as such.

Nice little Catch 22 for them. It allows them to plead ignorance of most violations that take place on eBay. The other flaw in the system is that on the rare occasion that they remove an account it is far to easy to open a new one under a different name.

That is why I still have to advocate for reporting such things through law enforcement either the FBI - https://tips.fbi.gov/ - who are responsible for domestic criminal infringements or ICE - https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail ... hobA%3D%3D - and - https://apps.cbp.gov/eallegations/allegations.asp

These can be submitted anonymously but would of course be much stronger if submitted by the owner of said intellectual property.

One of the common complaints so often heard from magicians is how little respect we and out art/craft get. This is an area where we can start to reclaim some of that respect. All that is required is that enough of us choose to speak out. After all if you see your neighbors house being burglarized would you not dial 911?
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Postby JKeppel » 02/08/13 04:51 AM

earlier in this thread I talked about how my friend Tom Yurasits had his Confusing Crayons ripped off and that dealers in the US were selling the copy made in India. I had the courtesy to at least not NAME any of these dealers. Tonight one of those dealers emailed me and had the gall to say he wasnt MAKING the copy just selling it!!!!!!!! He thinks its ok to SELL a stolen item as long as he didnt make it. I cant belive the nerve. But, if he emails me anymore nasty letters Im naming him. Oh, also he told Tom he'd stop selling the copies if Tom would buy them off him. He actually expects the original creator to buy the stolen copies from him. words escape me lol.
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Postby mrgoat » 02/08/13 06:54 AM

jwalkmagic wrote:A little like saying "there will always be house fires so why bother having a fire department?"


Not really. Fire departments achieve something. They put out fires.

I've found that analogies in discussions like this rarely work.

jwalkmagic wrote:I thought one of the reasons for a forum like this was to inform and rally support.


Indeed. But people don't have to agree.

I've already told you what I would do, set up a blog, set up twitter, send out press releases. Have you tried any of that yet or are you just content to moan about the situation whilst not actually doing much?


jwalkmagic wrote:I fail to understand why more of them do not file complaints against those who import and sell what are clearly counterfeits.


Again, because it is fruitless. If the music, video game, movie and manufacturing industry have been fighting this for decades and achieved nothing, then a few magicians are unlikely to succeed.

However, if you want any help setting up the social media and blog etc, I will show you how to do that. Teach a man to fish and all that...
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/08/13 03:26 PM

This does seem to be a big part of the problem. Like the guy who buy a hot diamond ring rationalizing that he was not the one who stole it.

If this dealer keeps sending you abusive emails don't bother naming him - report him to his ISP and if necessary the proper authorities. It does not take a lot for an abusive email to cross the line into criminal harassment.

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JKeppel wrote:earlier in this thread I talked about how my friend Tom Yurasits had his Confusing Crayons ripped off and that dealers in the US were selling the copy made in India. I had the courtesy to at least not NAME any of these dealers. Tonight one of those dealers emailed me and had the gall to say he wasnt MAKING the copy just selling it!!!!!!!! He thinks its ok to SELL a stolen item as long as he didnt make it. I cant belive the nerve. But, if he emails me anymore nasty letters Im naming him. Oh, also he told Tom he'd stop selling the copies if Tom would buy them off him. He actually expects the original creator to buy the stolen copies from him. words escape me lol.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/08/13 03:51 PM

mrgoat wrote: I've already told you what I would do, set up a blog, set up twitter, send out press releases. Have you tried any of that yet or are you just content to moan about the situation whilst not actually doing much?


Well as far as I know Genii Forum is one of the largest magic boards on the internet so I would say this is a good start. I have also posted about this on some FaceBook forums I belong to. I have shared here the appropriate links where any one on Genii Forum can take five minutes out of their lives to report any violations to U.S. authorities - as I already have in the cases I have sighted. Both of these sights even allow for anonymous reporting. I have even emailed Daryl with my suspicions about the dealer in question and he replied with a very gracious email telling me that they would look into it.

mrgoat wrote: Again, because it is fruitless. If the music, video game, movie and manufacturing industry have been fighting this for decades and achieved nothing, then a few magicians are unlikely to succeed.


And yet the music, video game and movie industries continue to aggressively pursue violators. It also would seem that the authorities are also following through.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2012/011.html

Tho I must admit you do make part of my point for me. As long as you and others cling to your belief that there is no point in trying and so choose not to little will happen. That is the key frustration that so many are willing to allow this to continue when in the case actual counterfeits the tools are available to do something.
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/16/13 08:43 PM

The Chinese rip-off dealers have stolen a great number of my creations, made by Joe Porper, as well as his stuff. It is almost impossible to tell even looking at the instructions. Their pricing is insanely low. One check is measure the instructions... if they are not exactly 8 1/2 x 11 sheets they are counterfeit, as their paper is metric and a shade off size.
One thing, they are poorly made and break easily. We got a lot of calls from dopes that wanted us to fix them.
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Postby magicrobharv » 02/17/13 10:56 AM

Pete,
What do you say to someone who is calling you about about a counterfeit product of yours? I was just wondering if they even know they bought a cheap rip-off version of one of Joe Porper's fine effects. With all the information available online, do they have an excuse? Joe Porper is a craftsman. Chinese counterfeits are junk.
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Postby Tom Moore » 02/17/13 02:06 PM

It's only once you've eaten the finest steak prepared by a Michelin stared chef that you realize just how terrible a McDonalds Beefburger tastes; up until that point you think beefburgers are great and what all beef tastes like. People buying knock-offs are /generally/ price-conscious buyers and have spent their whole life working with low-quality props that only-kinda-work. They generally can't comprehend the difference in quality or the compromises they'll be making.
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Postby erdnasephile » 02/17/13 03:36 PM

I believe those who buy the expensive items from foreign sellers at cut rate prices know exactly what they are getting.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/18/13 02:08 PM

I kinda disagree with that. Unfortunately the old brick and mortar magic shop is increasingly becoming anachronistic for most people. More and more magic is being sold either over the internet or from chain pitch shops in tourist areas.

It is difficult enough for anyone to know if an item is genuine before it is in your hands. We all love a bargain after all. If we didn't places like eBay would not exist.

Perhaps the worst damage comes when someone new to magic gets taken by a less than ethical dealer and their view of the magic community gets tainted. This may be the greatest harm to come from these practices.
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Postby Gordon Meyer » 02/18/13 03:04 PM

I think people who buy a "bargain" version of a product know exactly what they're doing. They don't care its a knockoff, they just want to save a buck.

Take a look at the furniture industry for an example that will put the magic world into some perspective.

The official, original Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is $5K here:
http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/se ... toman.html

But you can easily find a knockoff, including this one that is openly advertised (and touted!) as a "reproduction" for just $1400.
http://www.roveconcepts.com/store/livin ... unge-chair

And then there are all those "Gucci" purses on Canal St in NYC. I doubt that many purchasers there think they're the real thing. (At least I hope not.)
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Postby erdnasephile » 02/18/13 05:23 PM

HI, jwalkmagic:

I wasn't targeting my comment at you because you were buying a bunch of small items, where pre-sale provenance can sometimes be difficult to determine (been burned a few times myself). My apologies for any offense I've caused you.

I was mainly thinking of someone who sees that a genuine set of Porper's ghostly linking finger rings goes for over $600, and then turns around and purchases a "new" set from Taiwan for less than $100. They must surely know what they are buying, right?

Same holds true for all of those "too good to be true" L & L DVD deals from Malaysia.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 02/19/13 11:26 AM

I would agree about those of us who have more experience should smell a rat but to neophytes who have not yet learned about this practice there is little protection and I fear to say that this may turn many of them away from magic.

Even those of us who are more experienced can have difficulty in distinguishing a web based dealer who is on the up and up from one who is just a front for an offshore counterfeiter.

I still say the best way to combat this is for those of us who have been burned to take a few moments to report the seller to whomever seems appropriate and for the holder of any rights to these effects to take as firm a stand as they can in pursuing those who are knowingly engaging in the practice.

Unfortunately countries like China, Malaysia and India have shown little regard for intellectual property. I expect those governments to turn a blind eye to the practice.

Enforcement of the laws here is the only hope of removing a significant portion of the profit to be made. In so many other fields the authorities have come down heavily on sellers of bootleg DVDs, CDs Gucci bags and so on I fail to see why the magic community in general seems to think that the same laws do not apply to our field.

For my part I have shared the information I was able to dig up and have passed in along. If I again in the future am burned - particularly by a "legitimate" dealer I intend to act as I have in this case and inform the appropriate parties.

If more of us would resolve to do so then I think you would see some action and less temptation to engage in the selling of these goods.
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Postby Jim Riser » 02/19/13 02:30 PM

You know you could just order from the maker of the item. I am pretty sure that Joe Porper sells only his originals like the rest of the actual people who design and create their items.

As long as people think they will get something for nothing, they will be taken.
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Postby hugmagic » 02/20/13 09:17 PM

Jim has hit a lot of it on the head. People will get what they pay for.
As a manufactuer, like Jim and Joe Proper, I only sell what I make or directly relates to my product. Fantasio shut down his business partially because of the rip offs of his directions and products. Copyright means nothing to China. When I run out of Fantasio products I will simply discontinue the effect.

Knowing who are dealing with is an absolute must. I know who I am selling to. I have refused to sell to known knockoff artists, like Tora. People who pay top dollar for exclusive products will not let others take them to copy with cheap copies to flood the market. They pay and want something exclusive to set their act apart from others.

So knowing your customers is the manufacturers best defense for ripoffs. Like in the old days, you pay your dues before you are privey to certain things.

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