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Sibex

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Reply with quote  #1 

Well, I’ve not annoyed anyone for a while, and as my high horse is just outside I thought I may as well get on it.  So…. Discussion time.

I find the whole idea around the crediting of what is essentially intellectual property rights, in the world of magic, fascinating.  I know of no other art form, and I’m going to call magic an art, that gets itself into such a state of animation over the origin of an idea.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that creating an effect or a sleight is not something everyone can do. It can be either the product of years of hard work or a flash of inspiration; as such, of course it is important that the right people are acknowledged.

However, just to be provocative, tell me who came up with the dance move called a pada beret?  Who first decided to use a paradiddle whilst drumming?  I bet you don’t know, and certainly don’t care.  In the world of dance and music, these things are used all the time.  However, I don’t have to read who created them on the back of every album cover. I have certainly never heard a drumming teacher reel off the names of all the people who developed each of the rhythmic styles he teaches me.  There are no credits listed at the back of a ballet programme telling me who created the original movements.  It simply isn’t that important.

Why so in magic?  Why do I need to listen to or read a long list of names, stretching back over a hundred years, so I know that in 1951 Sleighty McCardface decided to use his ring finger instead of his pinky to hold a break over the bottom card, believing it improved on Trevor Headstands’ previous year’s handling?  I realise I am being flippant for the sake of making a point, but I do think there is some basis of fact in there.  And heaven help you if you forget to give ‘proper credit’.  It’s as though you’ve committed a more heinous crime than Dr Crippin ever did.

So, for the sake of discussion, what are your thoughts on crediting?  I think we can all agree that, to a degree, it is important.  However, is it really necessary in as much detail as we see?

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #2 
To be respectful of your inspirations and acknowledge them is a good thing in my mind. It allows people to understand the past masters and history of the art forms, this is common practice in music. Remember how the Beatles, The Stones, Clapton etc. told the world how they were influenced by the blues guys like Muddy Waters, B.B King and so on - in some cases they often lifted/copied certain parts of old song directly... but even this was seen as a mark of respect for those who had gone before.

One of the things I find appealing is how the Internet has changed the way we see the world. It has encouraged people to connect and share ideas in many different ways, one of which is forums such as this one. Alongside this we also have things such as YouTube, and other forms of social media which have allowed people to see things they would have otherwise had to pay for.

Is crediting important?

Maybe, maybe not... depends on your perspective I guess.

Do you have to know the origins of a sleight or routine in order to perform great magic?

How different would magic be if magicians were just shown a few basic sleights/principles and then encouraged to create from their own imaginations?

What if we were more open in sharing our ideas in order to better the art, rather than make a name for ourselves, or money from selling ideas, tricks and sleights - how important would crediting then become?

We all use the words of our native languages without knowing how they came about, or who originated them... why should magic be any different, after all it's just another language.
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sibex
...
who came up with the dance move called a pada beret?  Who first decided to use a paradiddle whilst drumming?  I bet you don’t know, and certainly don’t care.  In the world of dance and music, these things are used all the time.  However, I don’t have to read who created them on the back of every album cover.
...
There are no credits listed at the back of a ballet programme telling me who created the original movements.  It simply isn’t that important.

Why so in magic?  Why do I need to listen to or read a long list of names, stretching back over a hundred years
...



We're talking about two different things here.  Readers of album covers and ballet programmes are for the most part members of the laity - art consumers if you like.  They are more likely to be interested in the experience of the art than in its provenance.  Readers or auditors of instructional material, on the other hand, may be expected to include those with more scholarly interests in the subject.

For what its worth, I was associated with a ballet school for many years.  The ballet teachers, particularly the senior ones, certainly did know the history of the development of their art and could trace the origins of the positions and gestures.  The same is true of the better piano teachers I have known, and the Tai Chi masters with whom I took classes.

One of the things that differentiates magic from other arts and sciences is that it lacks a formal educational system.  We have no Juilliard, no Conservatory examinations, etc.  This isn't necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it's just a thing.  And one of the consequences of this is that deep scholarship in magic - including the meticulous crediting and history-tracing to which Sibex refers - is not relegated to tomb-silent ivory towers where pedants scrape their quills across parchment, crafting treatises that will gather dust for centuries before being exhumed by another seeker of knowledge.  Instead, such scholarship gets thrown into the magic muffin-mix along with everything else - to the evident frustration of those who just want to know how to do the damn trick.

The music publishing industry is a perfect illustration.  Sheet music does not contain full historical citations - because there is another branch of music publishing that does.  Magic doesn't have that luxury.  So I say "Cite on, my brothers and sisters.  The details you record are important, and those who don't like reading them are free to skip over."

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Chi Han

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Reply with quote  #4 
Well...I think crediting has a lot of different aspects to it, and there's certainly a lot to get mad or not get mad about.

On the more black and white scale, I don't think there's anyone out there who wouldn't condemn incorrect crediting where someone is attempting to steal the work of another.  There can obviously be some confusion where dates of invention are very close, but blatant stealing is probably a pretty set point to get angry about.

There's also what Erdnase did, which is just to write up stuff and not credit, but where it's his own to mention that it is his work.  Perhaps that's a little more grey, and I think that's more what you're getting at.  In my opinion I don't think this is something I would raise a pitchfork over, as long as it was made clear that the author was not the inventor.  It can be hard to know who was the inventor sometimes, and while I think there should be a due diligence on good authors to give credit where credit is due just to be respectful, unless you're a magic historian, you may honestly not know who was the actual originator of the double lift, or the top palm.  I think even Vernon got that confused, citing Erdnase as the first example of a double even though there were quite a few references before that.

It can be very useful for readers to get credits, it let's us trace sources, and to be honest where moves are new or not as well known, should be named so that variations can be studied if wanted.

There's obviously also much more shady areas, and crediting can really help to get around it.  I 'invent' moves all the time that are already in print in magic literature, and I certainly have 'variations' of them.  If I were to write something up, just doing some cursory research means I don't accidentally claim credit for something that is actually a hundred years old.  I remember Mac King explaining how he came up with the 'Mac King Palm' only to be told by Michael Weber that Marlo had published 'something like that technique'.  Further research showed that Marlo hadn't published 'something like that technique', he'd published EXACTLY that technique.  It happens by accident, but once people start blaming and spreading rumours that you're trying to steal other people's ideas, that damage to the reputation can be hard to quash, so it serves to protect the author as well.

I find that it also makes for better books.  Not to say that lack of crediting or proper crediting adds or detracts from the quality of the magic.  I think the Frank Garcia books notoriously had issues with crediting, but I don't think anyone is saying that the material isn't good.  It's more of an ethics thing, and should be seen as separate from the quality of the work itself.  But what it does is it makes the books more complete, and much nicer to read knowing that proper creators are getting proper credit.  Nowadays many 'magicians' would prefer to torrent material rather than pay the creators.  If they won't give the creators the money they're due, perhaps the least they could do is give them the credit?  Maybe that's being optimistic of me.  But if magicians have a higher standard of ethics, and love of our history, I don't see it as a bad thing.  Will it detract people from publishing?  Has it actually hurt our community?  I think those are things better answered by the writers and creators.  But as a casual fan, and student of the art, I think that it has helped my studies of the craft immensely.
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jim ferguson

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Reply with quote  #5 
Take a look on the Theory11 forum or any of the others where the younger guys hang out, and you'll see why proper crediting is important. There are folk who think "Be Honest What Is It" is David Blains two card Monte, and any two card transposition is a "variation" of a Wayne Houchin "original".

If more folk studied the history of the craft maybe we wouldn't have the raft of rehashed nonsense that floods the market every year as "new" releases.


Jim

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luvisi

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chi Han Yeo
I remember Mac King explaining how he came up with the 'Mac King Palm' only to be told by Michael Weber that Marlo had published 'something like that technique'.  Further research showed that Marlo hadn't published 'something like that technique', he'd published EXACTLY that technique.


Sometimes I think we should all just assume that every one of our ideas was previously published by Marlo.

I'm sort of kidding.  Sort of.  I've lost track of how many great ideas I've had, that I subsequently discovered in a Marlo book.  Although each time it's a different move, the discovery always prompts the same expletive.

As for the value of crediting, I feel it's good to be connected to our roots, and it's good to tell people where they can learn more about an idea or its origins.  Sometimes when you like an idea, you want to read everything that you can about it, and credits give you other places to look.

I don't generally see magicians criticized for missing an obscure credit.  I see them criticized for making no effort to credit at all.

Also, although the place of first publication is more or less known for things like the glide, the pass, or the break, only historians bother to credit them.  There does seem to be a canon of standard moves and ideas for which credit is not considered an ethical necessity so much as a friendly extra.

As a rule of thumb, I think if you make a good faith effort to credit the ideas you use that aren't in more than a third of your beginning magic books then you probably won't make too many people angry.

Andru
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #7 
Harry Lorayne published the 'Ultra Move' which a variation of a move first written up by Arthur Buckley. Harry says he discovered it independently... I guess this must of happened many times in the past.

Maybe it was done by other magicians prior to these two, yet never documented, or published.

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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #8 
   I did - and it's a "variation" that made it/makes it workable - according to the literally thousands of such testimonials about The Ultra Move from all over the world over a few decades.
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Tom G

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Reply with quote  #9 
A pretty interesting subject.  I'm totally impressed by people like Max Maven that seem to know or know where to find the history of any move.  When I had a lot more time to read and practice, I had a decent knowledge, but that's a little in the past. With all the crediting and research, there still seem to be a number of moves and routines that still are in clouds as to where they came from.  As a teen, messing with the deck I thought (through error) that I had invented an new move.  It wasn't a week later I was reading Tarbell and found I re-invented the Kelly Bottom Placement.. or the Ovette Master Move.  It'd be interesting to make a list of moves or routines that don't seem to have clear crediting or debate on the beginning. 
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David

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Reply with quote  #10 
I think the need for crediting in magic comes about from the fact that the move/sleight, whatever is hidden. When you do it really well or to perfection nobody see's anything. When listening to music or experiencing other art forms you can see or hear the similarities and come to your own conclusions the inspiration behind it. But magic is different. I didn't hit the nail on the head but I think Im in he ball park.
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alexandercrawford

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Reply with quote  #11 
I think we have a reasonably good (though certainly not perfect) honour based system in magic for protecting the ideas of creators and rewarding them appropriately (mainly in respect rather than financial reward).
Good crediting is an important part of that system.

Some magicians may go a little over the top in crediting, but that is a fault on the right side and, I hope, will persuade the poorer crediters (of whom there are still many unfortunately) to do at least the bare minimum in researching and providing appropriate credits.
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Nathan_himself

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Reply with quote  #12 
This is a fascinating subject. As a student, I have learned to love citing my work. I've never sold any of my work but release it to small numbers of friends and those interested in my work. When I write explanations I use the APA style of citation. That being said, it is nearly impossible to credit everyone that may have influenced the effect. It is also worth noting that our art is unique because (in my opinion) there is a finite number of things to be discovered.

I'll give a personal example. A few years back I wanted to release my pulse stop routine. It was inspired by a few different people, namely Luke Jermay, Andrew Gerard, and David Berglass. My routine was dramatically different from the original method because there are no props. My routine also has a part of the routine where you steal a spectators pulse. After sending it to a few friends, people started pointing at a million different pulse stop methods and saying I should credit this person and that person. The problem stemmed from the fact that this was independently discovered, but it felt like there was no point putting out this routine if people felt like it wasn't original.

I believe that crediting is vital because we shouldn't just have 30 books of the same method. That being said, it 's hard to credit when there are thousands of ways lost to time that only a few are aware of.

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ianmcrawford

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Reply with quote  #13 
What a great discussion!

I like to think there is a difference between technique crediting and composition crediting.

When publicly performing a routine composed by someone else, I believe its important to credit the original routine.  I perform a variation of  cups and balls inspired by Michael Ammars' cups and balls.  He did the hard work of drawing together and arranging a variety of techniques (such as the Moira/Vernon wand spin, the Charlie Miller cup through cup etc.)It's his composition, drawn on years of studying other's techniques.  Its like seeing your favourite band do a "cover" of someone else.  Personally I like K.D.Lang's cover of Leonard Cohan's Alleluia (one of those cases of the cover being better than the original).  We all know that its Cohan's song, but its Lang's version.  She made it hers. And credits Cohan.  So, in the same vain, I hope I have used Ammars cups and balls composition and modified it with variations and other techniques (and presentation and my performing persona) to make it mine.  But I acknowledge that Ammar is the inspiration.  Publicly.

Techniques such as the Moira/Vernon wand spin, the Charlie Miller cup through cup move, or the Williamson strike vanish are techniques invented, discovered or otherwise developed by others who study this sort of thing.  Last week someone showed me a really great improvement on the Zarrow shuffle.  Makes it much easier.  I am not at liberty to say who showed it to me, (my old friend Dai Vernon always said it was not polite to name drop) but I will always acknowledge the improvement to the Zarrow technique when discussing it with other trusted magicians in a "session".  But I digress.  Techniques are important to acknowledge within our magic community.  We do this, to acknowledge the inventor and insure that they take their rightful place in magical history. And to continue to foster a magical environment where technique inventors are celebrated by their peers for their work.

Onward....


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Ben Morris-Rains

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Reply with quote  #14 

I read a lot of the responses and skimmed all of them and lots of good points. The reason I like credits and why I try to credit anything I come up with, is so that others can look up the routines/moves/tricks that my trick/move is based on. Sometimes it's helpful to go back and see the original or the other variations. This can maybe spawn a new variation or trick entirely. I also think that, as others stated, it helps determine if your invention is original or not, which we often find that it isn't. 

I think it is the magician's responsibility to credit as best as possible but not everyone is perfect and there is no way any one person can know every single variation of any one thing, so the people that hark on slight credit mishaps are on the extreme side IMO. 


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Craig Logan

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Reply with quote  #15 
Having the respect to investigate the history of a particular routine, sleight, or gimmick would result in fewer releases. The main objection to the plethora of magic releases is it becomes a wall of white noise. What's worse is that this wall is made up, primarily of recycled and reused ideas that do not push our craft forward. A historical exploration would help to ensure the ideas and products are genuinely contributing to the art. Again, this would result in fewer magic releases, but that is probably for the best. 

This gut-check question of "Does my voice advance the art or add to the clutter?" is well worth asking. 

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Gareth

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blathermist

The thing is Tom, you did invent it. Yep, it’s galling when you find it’s already been published, but it doesn’t take away the good feeling that comes from the actual creation.

As I’ve noted elsewhere on the forum, I invented the Overhand Lift Shuffle, and was exceedingly miffed when I discovered that others had stolen it from me and published it before I was born.

Nevertheless, the warm feeling of creation remains.



This is just another in the long list of why time-travel is such a mine field!
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