The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

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Richard Kaufman
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The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 11th, 2008, 12:31 pm

Objection by the Finnish Magic Circle against giving FISM the intellectual property rights attached to the contestant's performance during the FISM WCM (point 5 a+b in the draft of the 29th of April 2008):

FISM wants to get all the rights to use a contestant's performance on television, internet, videogram distribution, etc etc, if you take part in the FISM WCM. The Finnish Magic Circle find this humiliating from the standpoint of the individual magician's rights.

We suggest that each competitor is given the rights to choose if he or she wants to sell all the rights for some kind of a lump sum. He/She can also choose not to give the rights for more than those 30 seconds mentioned. Another (less advantageous) solution would be to specify more precisely the exact amount of rights you give away for that lump sum. But to give away ALL RIGHTS is, we think, unacceptable.

Robert Jgerhorn
President
The Finnish Magic Circle
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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Pete Biro » May 11th, 2008, 1:26 pm

I agree. When I did the TV contracts for the performers at the IBM Conventions, each was allowed a choice... and added payment for those usage rights.
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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby David Alexander » May 11th, 2008, 1:44 pm

If your performance is worth being broadcast, you're worth being paid. If your performance is making money for other people, you should be paid for your work.

It takes a lot of nerve to charge people to enter a contest and then make money off them without paying them.

If FISM isn't making enough money to cover their expenses, they need to charge more, not rip off performers.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Grant McSorley » May 11th, 2008, 2:23 pm

Is this new this year? Would the rights belong to the Chinese FISM committee or the organisation itself?

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby John LeBlanc » May 11th, 2008, 2:58 pm

Nature abhors a vacuum. If, at some point, in the eyes of a broad representation of membership FISM restrictions become too burdensome the organization will eventually see competition. And its competition will not need a significant fraction of 60 years to establish itself.

Everything changes. Although FISM claims in one of its bullet points "to fight against exposure" it has as its president an individual who is reported to be not all that concerned about magic exposure.

I don't find it ironic that this issue is raised within a hair's breath of the complaints about FISM 2009 being hosted in China.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby CraigMitchell » May 11th, 2008, 3:39 pm

"it has as its president an individual who is reported to be not all that concerned about magic exposure."

John - would you qualify that or reference a source ?

Thanks

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby John LeBlanc » May 11th, 2008, 6:28 pm


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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Sue Anne Webster » May 11th, 2008, 8:09 pm

John, I can see how you could form that opinion from the article:

-------------------------------------

"Eric Eswin, magician and president of FISM, the International Federation of Magic Societies which organises the championships, is less concerned.

"Sometimes we are too secretive about the secrets," he said. "There are 14 ways of cutting a woman in half. Even if they explain one on television, you could do it again in three months and 90% of the audience would have forgotten.

Nor does knowing how the trick works necessarily spoil the enjoyment. "It is the performance and the charisma of the magician," Eswin said. "I am not looking for the secret, I am appreciating the performance."

A peek at the market and you can understand the magicians concern. For $800 you can buy the damask-covered table floating in mid-air next to one stall - complete with instructions.

Next door, spoons, forks and keys were showing an alarming tendency to bend in half in the hands of Israeli magician Erez Moshe, who was happy to reveal his secret for 30 euros ($38)."

------------------------------------------

To me it appears that Eric was downplaying the exposure of secrets and trying to put the reporter's focus back onto the performance of magic.

As you can see by the reporter's journey into the dealer room, it makes magicians look like they won't give their secrets away, but will happily sell them.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby John LeBlanc » May 11th, 2008, 8:15 pm

Tim Ellis wrote:As you can see by the reporter's journey into the dealer room, it makes magicians look like they won't give their secrets away, but will happily sell them.


Which calls to mind a quote from George Bernard Shaw, "We've already established what you are ... Now we're just haggling over the price."

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Edward » May 11th, 2008, 8:37 pm

My thoughts exactly, John L.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Glenn Farrington » May 11th, 2008, 8:45 pm

I think its simply ludicrous that competitors are not being allowed the option of not giving away the rights. Here are people simply wishing to compete amongst their art. People that have taken god knows how much time to prepare for that brief moment in front of the judges. For the FISM committee to be in such an onerous position is unfair and does nothing but take advantage of innocent individuals. To offer the choice would be another matter all together. One that is a win for all.

Now as far as being a hair's breath of complaints of it being held in China...my opinion, and once again, may I stress...my opinion...I think the Chinese are a proud and amazing people. Their government however lacks forethought, honesty and humanity.
My wife and I currently do not buy any products from China and will do nothing to support that country what so ever until a time drastic changes arise.

For those of you going, I hold no malice...but you wont see me there.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go to the New Moon Cafe nearby in Montrose California and order the Shrimp and Lobster sauce.
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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Pete Biro » May 11th, 2008, 8:53 pm

To me one of the sad things about FISM going to China (so far away from Europe) is that so few of those that dream of and work toward competing at a FISM are shut out.

I had an idea that I bantered about but nobody listened. If the Chinese wanted to have a "real" FISM... they should have chartered a Jumbo Jet and had it pick up acts in England, France, Germany, Italy, etc. and after bring them all back home. At NO COST to the performers.
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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby MaxNY » May 11th, 2008, 11:23 pm

Eric's "14 Ways To Cleave Your Lover" song is a wrong approach. You should never tell the press, anything about "How many ways". It just dumbs down the art. I understand there is a potential market to sell a show (or several shows), but the performers should be in control of their art. Contestants should be asked to negotiate their fee ahead of the weeks activities. This gives FISM the advantage, and may help sell the show to producers. The top winners should benefit from a percentage of profits. I applaud the Finnish Magic Circle.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby CraigMitchell » May 12th, 2008, 7:53 am

Anybody know what the policy has been up until now ? I was under the impression that all contestants automatically signed away their rights on entry to the contest in past events ? Or when the Japanese purchased the rights for previous FISMs were the performers remunerated ?

Unfortunately the most recent FISM TV special didn't make for riveting viewing from a layman's perspective ... :-(

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Sue Anne Webster » May 12th, 2008, 8:17 am

In the past, FISM has sold TV rights to NHK TV and other organisations. Often the specials would feature clips of contestants acts, especially those that set fire to the stage or dropped doves on the floor.

I'm not 100% sure but I do remember getting a small fee in the post from NHK TV when a clip of my 6 Card Rap appeared on a special (complete with subtitles and the hosts talking in Japanese all over it *g*).

Personally, I'm in favour of:
1 - Compete at FISM and they can use up to 30 seconds of your act on their TV special.
2 - If they want to use more, they pay you an appropriate fee.

This issue isn't related to the Chinese, it's something that's being forulated now that FISM has taken control of their TV rights and started producing their own TV specials instead of selling the rights.

The main problem I have is that, unlike NHK TV, when FISM uses your act and packages it in their own produced TV special, instead of paying for the rights to use the music you did your act to, they replace it with royalty free music. (Just like the 'World's Greatest Magic' series did).

Even though NHK TV had people talking all over the acts, at least you got to see the act performing to the music they had rehearsed to.

It would upset me more to see my 'Runaround Sue' act on TV to the wrong music, than it would to see it on TV and me not get paid.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Sue Anne Webster » May 12th, 2008, 8:27 am

Just reading an email from Eric Eswin, FISM are working "to try and find a better balance between competitors and FISMs interests."

He explains that the FISM special is usually presold for broadcast, but the networks expect that the special will include the acts of the winners.

If the winners all choose not to have their acts broadcast, there is no FISM TV special. (TV rights help pay for FISM).

So if anyone has any suggestions....

Are there benefits to a FISM TV special being aired worldwide?

Does it give the acts, and FISM itself, good exposure?

Or is it better to cancel the TV special and jack up the FISM registration cost?

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby David Alexander » May 12th, 2008, 9:44 am

It must be remembered that the purpose of television programs is to fill up the black space between commercials. To that end producers will do anything, including ridiculing performers who make a mistake to produce "entertainment."

Once you sign away your rights a producer can cut and edit your act any way they want. A PBS special of a few years ago had video of both Cardini and Channing Pollack, two of the finest acts of their type in the history of magic. Instead of showing them in their entirety, 8 minutes and 5 minutes, they were each edited down to around 90 seconds and the narrator talked over them. High quality performances reduced to a footnote.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby CraigMitchell » May 12th, 2008, 10:28 am

"Or is it better to cancel the TV special and jack up the FISM registration cost? "

But next year we don't have that problem - the Chinese government are footing the bill ;-)

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby CraigMitchell » May 12th, 2008, 10:29 am

What is considered to be acceptable remuneration for the use of one's act on a worldwide TV special ?

John Fisher was literally brought on board at the last moment for the 2006 TV special which may partly explain why the program wasn't anything to write home about.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 12th, 2008, 11:35 am

They may be footing PART of the bill, but it's not going to be cheap to go to Beijing. Registration is over $600, airfare will be a minimum of $800, but probably more.

No one knows what the hotels will cost because they've all jacked up their prices for the Olympics and it's uncertain when the prices will come down, and to what level they will return to (this is why there is no hotel information on the FISM 2008 website yet).
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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby CraigMitchell » May 12th, 2008, 1:17 pm

Not cheap for Americans - yes.

But substantially cheaper for Australians & Asians who now save on airfare. Unfortunately for us Africans - travelling to Europe or travelling to China is still expensive ( although I would have preferred a trip to Europe )

The $600 registration price is "high" for the US - but particularly so because of the dwindling dollar against the Euro which the Chinese have benchmarked the event against.

China continue to drum how "cheap" things are on arrival - food, transport, hotels etc. Time will tell whether this remains the case.

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Re: The Finnish Magic Circle is Unhappy with FISM

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 12th, 2008, 8:23 pm

A response written by FISM President Eric Eswin to Robert Jgerhorn.

Dear Robert,

First of all sorry for the delay in responding. I have been away a few days to recuperate. Im back at FISMs office now.

Thank you for your reaction to the draft of the FISM Contest Rules and Procedures to be used as of the FISM WCM2009. The Presidium very much appreciates your involvement in FISMs way to shape its changes, as these were endorsed by the General Assembly during our meeting in Stockholm in July 2006.

We are especially grateful that you did not only tell us your objections, but have also presented alternative proposals.

We fully understand your concern about competitors transfer of Intellectual Property (IP) rights to FISM. The protection of individual IP rights has also been a serious issue in the deliberations within the Presidium.

Before coming back to your positive proposals, allow me to give you some more background information and to share with you some of our considerations.

Since FISMs creation in 1948 we do not have any film or foto material of the past conventions and their performers. We are trying to build such an archive from now on.

For such an archive we need the consent of the performers to use (no longer than 30 seconds video/film) their film and foto images for PROMOTIONAL (NOT Commercial) purposes. Not only during the convention, but for many years afterwards also. (Wouldnt it be wonderful if FISM would have had a film and foto archive, to show FISM member societies the competitors and Champions of the past?)
We think that it is only fair and reasonable to ask such a consent from competitors, as participation in a FISM WCM gives performers the almost exclusive opportunity to expose their act worldwide to magicians and entertainment agencies. They cannot get such an exposure easily otherwise.

Therefore we think it is reasonable to transfer to FISM the rights to use part of their performance for internal and promotional purposes in return. You may have read Albert Tams reaction to your e-mail, in which he expresses similar thoughts.

Trying to get such a consent and put it into the proper legal terms, also taking care of the appropriate protection of competitors IP, is not an easy job. Once done, the legal language sounds awful (you even call it humiliating).
Obviously, reading your objection, we have not been able to find the right wording yet.

Secondly, it is quite a different thing to use competitors act or part of it for commercial purposes, like e.g. a TV production for broadcasting purposes worldwide. If that is the case, competitor should receive a reasonable fee.

In this respect, at first sight, it looks fair and sympathetic to let competitor choose to be included or not in such a commercial enterprise. We fully understand this. However, a commercial TV production is often sold before the convention to broadcasting companies. The price they pay will mostly be added to the convention budget and is about 15-20% of the income budget of the convention. In other words: the money for TV coverage of a WCM is essential for the organization of the event. Broadcasting companies only pay upfront if they are sure that the new worldchampions will be included and that their performing rights (music!) are cleared. So we must try and find a way not to have too many competitors refuse the possible inclusion of their act (or part of it) in a TV production. As said before, of course competitors should be paid for such a production.

In 2006 the fee depended on the profit of the production. We have learnt that this has some disadvantages. In the new draft we have therefore offered a lumpsum, independent of profits and to be paid upfront.

Also in this case, according to your objection, we have not yet found the right method and phrases.

Having said this all, we will take your proposals as well as the reactions of other FISM Delegates, who in the mean time - have reacted to your e-mail, very seriously and will again discuss the issue with our lawyer. to try and find a better balance between competitors and FISMs interests.

Thank you again for your positive input. It will certainly contribute to finding the right agreement for an issue that has been neglected too long in FISMs history.
We will further inform you and all other FISM Delegates as soon as we have succeeded in finding the right balance.

Best regards,
Eric Eswin
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