First Off I personnaly try not to suport "Rip Offs". However, I do think that appealing to the ethics of magic (is there such a thing :confused: ) is a strategy which is bound to fail. Don't believe me...take a look at old magic magizines and you'll see the same issues and appeals and things haven't changed. Same exposure issues as well, but that's another topic all together ;)
If you release a magic trick (or any product for that matter) it is a business venture. As such, you must protect your business by any legal means possible and realize that the costs associated with that are part of the cost of doing business.
In the "real world" many businesses purchase their competitors products and reverse engineer them. They then market their own versions. Unless the product infringes on patents, etc. this is an acceptable business practice. So by this measure, if you buy one of these rip offs or copies you are just as guilty as if you buy a magic rip off. How many of us wait for the copies (which are generally cheaper) to come out so we can buy one???
I'm not saying that it's no good to inform people that you are the original creator of an effect (although what degree of variation constitutes a new enough effect for someone else to release is a very gray area). This will let those people who are considering purchasing the effect make an informed decision on whos version they will purchase.
Those you believe in suporting creativity will most likely purchase the originators effect as long as one of the copies is not greatly superior (and if it is really superior, then most likely it should be released).
Slight change of gears: Regarding Luke Dancy's comment:
If the masses continue doing things the way they are less and less "good" magic will be released.
Personnally I think there is too much magic released (Why does every thumb tip wielding self proclaimed master of magic insist on releasing every thought they've ever had whether magical or not)? If cutting releases of magic products down by 75% would mean a proportional reduction in good magic...well, I'm all for it. In the long run magic would be the better for it.
Magic used to be a rare and wondrous thing...now it's fodder for the discount bin.
Shoot, my soap box just collapsed.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in supporting the "confirmed" creators and owners of magic tricks and as a dealer have decided not to carry some items that I know are unethical. But I also think that sometimes people get a bit hung up on what constitutes an original effect.
Mark (The Long Winded One) Jensen That\'s Impossible