Shaxon's Newspaper Tear

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Leonard Hevia » 03/13/07 05:56 PM

Does anyone know where I can locate this classic? I confess to having a weakness for "The Newspaper Tear". Is this only available in Europe? Any dealer in the States that carries this?
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/13/07 06:23 PM

I believe this one is based on Alex Elmsley's Newspaper Tear. It's in one of the Elmsley books from Hermetic Press.
Also, Ron Wilson had some improvements on the reset in Kaufman's "The Uncanny Scot".

(Edit: Well, apparantly I was wrong...)
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/13/07 07:29 PM

Shaxon's paper tear is a variation of Pat Page's 10-Second tear. He just added a bit of gluing at one area to make it more secure. I believe his books are still available.
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Postby Guest » 03/13/07 09:36 PM

Leo,

Whatever version you decide to learn, here's a protocol to get it down. Make up three hundred papers.

Study whatever illustrations there are in the instructions.

Speaking slowly, tape record the instructions on a cassette three or four times all the way through.

Stand in front of a full-length mirror, pick up a paper and turn on the tape recorder. Watching yourself in the mirror and NOT looking at your hands, tear and restore 50 newspapers, slowly following your recorded instructions.

When you feel comfortable with the newspaper in your hand and you are doing it without error, re-record the instructions speaking at a normal speed.

Tear up and restore another 50-75 papers. Doing the movements slowly at first will train your muscle memory and make you comfortable with the movements.

Once you've torn and restored at least 150 papers over a few days, you're on your way. With the remaining papers practice them as part of your regular routine, determining where you'll put the paper and how to pick it up so you don't fumble in the early handling.

After you've gone through the 300 papers you've prepared, you should have it down and not have to think about it as you do it.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 03/14/07 07:33 AM

Thank you David for the detailed lesson on the correct way to practice/prepare for this effect. I surmised one hundred times would suffice. I now understand that was only one third of the way there. I will adhere to your suggestions.

Since I (may?) have your attention David, I also have a personal question about the Jumbo Rising Cards. I purchased the Paul Potassy book hoping for more than one paragraph on this wonderful performer's presentation of the Rising Cards. Alas, it was somewhat threadbare, and Potassy eventually dropped it from his repertoire. In any event, I plan to drop you a question or two on your thoughts about this effect for the stage. Thanks!

Thanks for your response Pete. You mean to say that the Shaxon tear is located in one of Pat Page's books? Can you narrow your response to one text? I suppose I will have to figure out where Shaxon added the extra bit of glue. Ah, that will be...fun.

I've studied this effect for a number of years, and each version is cursed with it's own weaknesses. Strong rear light, for instance, can expose the method. I once did the Slydini version for a friend near a desk lamp, and he commented that the light from the lamp (pardon the pun) made the method obvious. I am completely unfamiliar with Shaxon's, or Page's work on this, and would enjoy studying their methods.
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Postby Bo Jonsson » 03/14/07 10:38 AM

Shaxons "Tearing up the news" is described in his second book "Practical sorcery" published by Goodlife 1976.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/14/07 11:04 AM

I disagree to what David says. For me, that sounds like the formula for mechanical movements that will build up a 4'th wall. And where's the fun in hearing one's own dry voice over and over?

I'd suggest that you prepare the papers while watching TV or DVD. I guess that you can prepare 10-12 during an episode of "Lost" or "24".

Then, during practice, put on some music you like. Load up with some (non-alcoholic) beverage and some fruit or snacks. Then, just go nuts with it - if you run out of papers, just mime it. Try different ways; having a rythm in the tearing, doing it with fragmented pacing, fast, slow... "feel" with the paper as it breaks, or do it as a punishment to the paper. You're still experimenting - anything is allowed. To really get to know the effect and the plot; twist and turn it around until you know all the possible angles.

As soon as you have the basics down, try it out on an audience - preferably in a impromptu setting. You need to see the reactions and get feedback before settling on one specific handling - so that those things can be taken into account during practice.

Inbetween; Research glue, double-stick tape, direction of fibre-grain in different newspapers etc. Find out if you can improve the preparation, or the method.
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Postby Guest » 03/14/07 12:22 PM

Tom-

I have rarely known David to be wrong.

This time I think he is spot on. The ACTIONS of the hands must become soooo automatic that the mind is free to work on presentation and audience response EVERY time you do this. It must become as native as driving a car while (at a minimum) talkng on a cell phone -- or even better driving and listening to the radio.

I think the diversions of your method would for many of us (even us ADD types) would dilute the mechanical body movement too often to offer a completely unthought set of movements to which adequate patter and body language can be added to for any situation.

And yes -- at first painful and boring. But worth it -- like open heart surgery that is 100 per cent successful? YES!
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/14/07 01:04 PM

C.H.Mara
The ACTIONS of the hands must become soooo automatic that the mind is free to work on presentation and audience response EVERY time you do this.
Yes - at the time it becomes a featured part of your repertoire, I agree to that.

But do you have any idea how long it takes to un-learn something that has become automatic? What if you made a flawed assumption in your handling? You would not know that until you brought it in front of an audience. Therefore, it is desireable to break up rehersals with "public rehersals", to get feedback you easily can adapt and use in following rehersals.

Also, remember that you also have facial muscles. Each time you rehearse to get the handling into the "muscle memory", to get it automatic - you also rehearse your posture and facial expression, so that too becomes automatic - whether you know it or not. Therefore it is desireable to feel great while rehearsing. Perhaps it will take 300 papers in total - but doing more than 10-15/day will not do you any favours. Finding the "perfect" handling should be the goal of the rehersals, and not the start.
At the start, I have experience with neither the plot nor the technique - and I wouldn't trust someone without experience (i.e. myself) to decide what the perfect handling for me would be :)

While it might be true that David seldom is wrong - he is wrong here ;)
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Postby Guest » 03/14/07 04:23 PM

No Tom, I'm not wrong because what I described to Leo is exactly how I learned to do the Slydini Newspaper Tear when I was a kid.

Starting off slowly, learning the proper movements from the precise instructions that Slydini wrote up, prevents the student from learning bad habits that will require un-learning later. The Slydini instructions are quite detailed and there is no "flawed assumption" in them...not from my years of experience anyway.

I have torn and restored literally thousands of papers without a problem over my decades of performing, using Frakson's plot/presentation and the Slydini methodology, learned exactly as I described the process.

Because I don't have to think about what my hands and arms are going to do I can adjust my presentation to the needs of the audience...a little slower here....a little faster there...a look or expression at the appropriate moment for the particular audience...all without thinking about what I have to do next. That gives me the opportunity to interact with the audience, to look at them, smile, talk if I want, all the while knowing that my hands and arms will be doing the right thing. Doing the mechanics on auto-pilot gives me the opportunity to customize the presentation to the audience, as every experienced pro worth his salt can do.

When I did this as a kid at an SAM show, one of the old timers wrote that I had "torn and restored a newspaper like it should be done." This comes out of knowing what you're doing, not floundering around until you accidentally stumble on the proper movements and then hope to remember them.

I did not say to prepare the papers while listening to the tape recorder, but to tear up the papers as you listen to the tape recorder as you watch yourself in the mirror. At the beginning the movements may seem mechanical , but like learning to dance, new movements are clumsy only because they are new and unknown.

By the time Leo, or anyone for that matter who follows my protocol, finishes his 300th newspaper, he'll have something few others have: a presentation he can rely on.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 03/14/07 04:39 PM

I tried that approach once, but the record skipped...

Still, I have a nice snowstorm in China routine now.

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Postby Tom Stone » 03/14/07 05:51 PM

David Alexander wrote:
learning the proper movements from the precise instructions that Slydini wrote up, prevents the student from learning bad habits that will require un-learning later. The Slydini instructions are quite detailed and there is no "flawed assumption" in them
Might be so.. But I'm not sure that Slydini back then knew what would be best in my performances and for my persona. ;)

Talking about presentations - here's something that I wish I could steal. It's not often I feel like that, but man - I really covet this!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rWcCuNYcrc
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/14/07 06:23 PM

Why can't you do it? It's in print.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/14/07 06:31 PM

Pete Biro wrote:
Why can't you do it? It's in print.
That presentation is in print? Where?
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/14/07 07:17 PM

I think in the Harbin book of magic (but I sold mine so can't look it up).
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/14/07 07:24 PM

Pete Biro wrote:
I think in the Harbin book of magic
Ah, then I'm back to coveting again :(
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Postby Guest » 03/14/07 11:46 PM

In 1969 or 1970 when I ordered my copy of The Magic of Robert Harbin, he told me that he thought the newspaper tear was the best thing in the book! It is a good workable version.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/15/07 05:30 AM

Jim - is it described with the mime presentation, or is it just the trick?
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 06:40 AM

I believe I recall James Randi doing this presentation, but describing a bus ride instead of a plane trip. So if Randi can lift it .... well ...

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Postby Leonard Hevia » 03/15/07 06:58 AM

Hi Bo--thank you for the information on the text. I now have a lead I can follow. Is Practical Sorcery Shaxon, or Page's book? Who is the author?
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/15/07 07:05 AM

Brown Hornet wrote:
So if Randi can lift it .... well ...
I assume that Randi owns the book, as it seems likely that he has a rather extensive library.
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 09:42 AM

Randi's take on it, as I recall, was that he was riding a bus and someone asked to borrow half of his paper. So he obliged by tearing it in half and passing it to him. Someone else asked for a section, etc. Soon, everyone was reading a fragment, then someone would call out "switch!" and everyone would read another fragment. At the end of the ride, he took all the pieces and restored them. Since he did this in a lecture about 20 years ago,I don't think He'd mind a repeat here.

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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 09:52 AM

Tom Stone wrote:
Jim - is it described with the mime presentation, or is it just the trick?
...........................................
Tom;
The preparation and handling are clearly explained/illustrated. Harbin mentions how he does the effect; but does not supply any patter.
Jim
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/15/07 11:02 AM

@ Brown Hornet:
Ah - that's quite different then. I know Randi, so I could ask, but it sounds like something else. How was it blocked? Did he pass out the pieces to spectators acting as fellow travellers?

@ Jim Riser:
The mime presentation is not a part of the script? Just the trick?
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 11:17 AM

Tom;
The mine presentation was Harbin's excdellent presentation of the effect he explains in his book. In the book he describes/illustrates what is needed by the magician. As with any effect, a real performer will go from there to make it his/her own as Harbin did. It would be rather difficult to publish a mime presentation. What would you print? My guess is that if he were doing the book today, he would include a DVD with his presentations of the various items in the text. This was not possible when the book was published.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/15/07 11:57 AM

Jim Riser wrote:
It would be rather difficult to publish a mime presentation. What would you print?
Heh.. I would say the same about things like Origami and metal work, I can't imagine what one would print. So, I'm pretty sure there's a notation system for mime as well. If nothing else, there's always the Silent Script.
Pity.. the piece is completely out of reach then.
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 05:21 PM

The piece isn't out of reach....just watch Harbin do it and adapt the presentation yourself.

See him do it circ. 1939 on YouTube here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rWcCuNY ... ed&search=
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/15/07 08:02 PM

It's not mine.

Had it been published, it would just have been a matter of saving up enough and then find a copy for sale. But since it is unpublished I do not know whom to ask to get permission to perform it.
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 08:08 PM

Would the modern dance notation cover a mime presentation?
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/15/07 08:56 PM

Would the modern dance notation cover a mime presentation?
Hard to say. I know very little about Laban and close to nothing about the Benesh and Sutton systems. I think it can be applied, but even though the dance notation has some years behind it, it has not been put to extensive use until quite recently (I think that the choreography copyright act was the main catalysator for its use) - so I think it is a fair guess to say that dance notation isn't used much in mime.

I do not know if professional mime has its own notation system, but I guess that basic routines in beginners books are taught through text and photos
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 09:09 PM

What film/video is that segment taken from?

Thanks...
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Postby Guest » 03/15/07 11:04 PM

It was published. When something is published the writer is giving permission for the routine to be performed because he's put it out in the public.

Harbin is long dead. His book is a high-priced collectible and the money won't go to him even if you buy it from a third or fourth party. The video is from British Pathe that was run on some British TV show. If you need to "buy" it, you can buy the tape from British Pathe. Adapt it to your own persona and enjoy.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/16/07 04:13 AM

It was published. When something is published the writer is giving permission for the routine to be performed because he's put it out in the public.
No David. Harbin published a Newspaper Tear, if I understand Jim Riser's posting right. I'm talking about the performance piece shown on that video clip, and that has not been published. I can't just steal a piece just because I've seen it performed on video or TV.

If I was interested in the Newspaper Tear on its own, I would need to get the book. Harbin made 500 copies, which means that there should be no more than 500 people doing that specific tear.
When something is published - it isn't given to the public. It's given to those who own the book - any other claim is not right.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/16/07 08:08 AM

Sorry, Tom, but you're wrong again. You don't understand American law (leave what you consider "moral" law out since they're not relevant). Anyone is free to watch that clip, reconstruct the method, and do the effect.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/16/07 12:51 PM

No Richard, it is the law that is irrelevant in this discussion. If you really think the law is "perfect" and omnipotent - how come it is constantly patched and amended. How come it has so many loopholes, if it is, always have been and always will be, correct? How come it requires interpretation? And how come that a decision in one court can be overthrown in a higher instance - if the law is flawless, as you suggest by refering to it as if it actually meant something - that should be impossible, right?

I don't get it, Richard. Why is it so important for you to promote the idea that it is alright to take other peoples creations?

Besides, I don't refer to the workings of that tear - the plot do not depend on it, and can easily be replaced with Gene Anderson's tear or any other. I refer to the performance piece. Whether a covert choreography of sleight of hand moves can be protected is perhaps open for debate - but pantomime is expressly defined in the choreography copyright act.

But all that is to make things complicated, when it is sooo easy in reality. All it takes is to think: "Did I create this?" when seeing something I like. If the answer is "No", then it's not mine, and I would be stealing if I took something that wasn't mine. Can't be simpler than that. Only crooks argue otherwise. Only crooks relies on legal loopholes, and tries to promote the idea that what they do is just and correct.

Yes, I do covet Harbins performance piece. But it would be disrespectful towards a great artist to just steal his work. If the law says otherwise - then the law is wrong!

Edit: Or is this due to something else, Richard? In the thread:
http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ ... 0;t=002226
..both you and David Alexander say exactly the opposite of what you say here. What is encouraged in this thread is called "theft" over in the other thread. Is there some badwill against Harbin that I'm unaware of?
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Postby Guest » 03/16/07 01:38 PM

Tom, I admire your work and respect your position on this matter. I also feel it would help to keep in mind that what we call "right" and "wrong" are in many ways defined by our legal system where two sides bring their case before the court to decide what is "right" and what is "wrong".

Simply asking folks to "hands off" another artist's work until you get their permission does not work unless you have force of law working for you OR you have a community where self respect and an abiding concern to protect the ideas in this craft as the precious things they are serve as primary motivators in the matter. My email is jontown@aol.com if you want to discuss the matter offline.

For now, we have a market where neither artistic vision nor the ideas developed to explore that vision are given recognition as property.

Okay, it's the ice-storm here talking. Back after a nice hot dinner.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/16/07 03:00 PM

I'm sorry to inform you, Tom, that the law is never irrelevant. People who think the law is irrelevant are called vigilantes--and they are actually criminals.
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Postby Guest » 03/16/07 03:31 PM

Tom Stone writes:
But all that is to make things complicated, when it is sooo easy in reality. All it takes is to think: "Did I create this?" when seeing something I like. If the answer is "No", then it's not mine, and I would be stealing if I took something that wasn't mine. Can't be simpler than that. Only crooks argue otherwise.
It's more complicated than that. To take a simple example from outside magic: Newton discovered F=MA (and much more). According to your logic, using or teaching the laws of physics would be "stealing". Well, that's clearly not stealing and certainly not a road society would want to go down. So the criteria of "Did I create this?" fails to discriminate between actual examples of stealing and false positives like the Newton example.

Jonathan's right that these are largely matters of what's accepted by society. We decide that some things should be considered intellectual property and others shouldn't. There's no blanket principle involved. Looking at what the law says is one way to objectively talk about it. I agree with you that the law is vague and changeable. You may think the accepted standards of society are wrong and need to be changed. But that's a different matter than positing that "Did I create it?" should be the standard that society accepts. If that's the case, I think almost everyone would have to reject your proposal. It depends on what was created, when, how, etc. People of good faith can disagree on that and shouldn't be called criminals just because they have different standards or intuitions about it than you. They certainly aren't criminals in the legal sense, since the law would most likely support them, not you.
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Postby Tom Stone » 03/16/07 03:40 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:
People who think the law is irrelevant are called vigilantes--and they are actually criminals.
Alright - I'm creative. I think I can read the law and find out ten heinous things to do, that are not expressly forbidden in those texts. Things that might cause harm and sadness all around.

Extending your opinion - I'm not only allowed to do these things by law, I'm also encouraged to do them?

And it someone protest and say that I should not to these horrible things, and says that it is irrelevant that I'm "allowed" by law - that person is a criminal?

Anyone is free to watch that clip, reconstruct the method, and do the effect.
Soo... I guess that I can take a clip of, for example, Chris Hart's act and duplicate it move by move. And say that Richard Kaufman approves of it?

Is that not what you are arguing here?
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Postby Guest » 03/16/07 03:42 PM

Tom,

First of all, we are a society of laws, so ones rights and privileges flow from the law. In our case, our Constitution. Laws and legal precedents form the basis of our legal system. To say the law is irrelevant and your opinion is what counts is silly.

I dont believe anyone has stated that the law is perfect or flawless. Laws are enacted by human beings who are imperfect. Language is often an imperfect method of communicating, so we require courts, lawyers, judges, the ever-evolving zeitgeist tempered by historical precedents to guide us.

While I cant speak for Richard, what I said on the thread you reference is in perfect alignment with my opinion here. What you fail to note is that Harbin is dead while Chris Hart is alive. Were Harbin still alive and had NOT published his routine, I would be of the opinion that while there may or may not be a force of law protecting him, it would be unethical to appropriate his entire act verbatim, as the Dutch woman performer did from Chris Hart.

However, Harbin is no longer alive, his wife is dead and he had no children. You seem to be of the opinion that you have to ask permission to perform even published routines. What about published routines of people who are dead? Even following your rather tortured logic that flies in the face of 100+ years of magic publishing, what you fail to understand is that you may not even be asking the right person if you see something published and want to perform it.

For example if memory serves, Al Koran published a torn and restored newspaper with a dropped piece. Clever, but not Korans plot presentation. I dont know if Frakson created the plot and presentation, but he was doing it back in the early 1930s (not long after the T & R Newspaper was created), popularizing it when he worked in England in the early 1950s which is probably when and where Koran saw him do it. Hed been doing it for almost 20 years by then.

So, following your logic, youd ask Koran for permission to perform something that he published you still wouldnt be on ethical grounds because he would be granting permission for something that wasnt his in the first place. Same thing for the Koran Wallet that looks and works suspiciously like a Himber Wallet.

Do you do a Chop Cup? By your logic you should have asked Al Wheatleys permissionor absent that, his widow, Charlene. Unfortunately, both are dead and, to my knowledge, they never authorized ANY other manufacturer to make the prop. Everything that wasnt manufactured by the Exacto Co. (Chops company) is a knock off.

Now, just to complicate your already spinning head, I think a good argument can be made that the entire Harbin book is in the public domain. When Harbin died his literary heirs became the British Origami Society. Back in the 80s I owned a small publishing company. I knew that Xerox copies of the Harbin book was being sold left and right at magic conventions as well as the famous counterfeit edition that was produced, I believe, by Al Mann.

I wrote to the BOS with the proposition that I produce an oversized trade paper back of the Harbin book that would do several things simultaneously:

1- It would undermine the sales of the unauthorized copies which were readily available to anyone who wanted a copy.

2 It would benefit Harbins literary heirs.

3 It would reinforce the BOSs copyright.

For almost three years I wrote to these people the BOS was headed by a lawyer at the time and each time I would be fobbed off with the response that they were going to have a meeting and discuss this. After two and a half years I called the director by telephone, basically asking him to get off the pot. I offered them a generous percentage AND an exclusive on selling the book in the British Isles. They would do very well on the deal and with authorization, I could advertise in the magic magazines. I thought it win-win proposition for all of us, especially since the book was readily available all over the place

I also pointed out that they were not doing anything to stop the proliferation of the rip-offs and that they might lose their copyright if they didnt enforce it.

They finally had the meeting and wormed out of making a responsible decision by turning over the rights to the Magic Circle. I gave up.

The point being, because they did nothing to protect their property, it is possible to argue that the Harbin book is in the public domain, so with that, there really is no one to ask and owning the book, a legit copy of his book, purchased from a third or fourth party, would legally and morally give you nothing.

If your logic requires you to ask permission of a creator to perform a routine they've published, you are cutting yourself off from an awful lot of material.
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