OPINION: Ethics in Magic
Our wonderful art is governed solely by ourselves, there is no committee, institution or law that protects what I consider the magician’s intellectual property once he has released a trick.
I bought a new trick in from the leading wholesaler Murphy’s Magic, the actual trailer and copy didn’t give enough information about it for me to make an informed judgement, so I took a punt. It arrived in the shop yesterday. Let’s call it “Exact Copy by Mr Whoops” so as not to draw attention to the actual product.
Imagine my surprise when it became clear it was a blatant rip off. It doesn’t steal from a little-known idea in a manuscript either (which is still very wrong), but a very popular trick by a well-known and respected creator. The concept used is so clear that I find it hard no one on its path to production and release noticed this.
Mr Whoops 100% knew, the similarities are just too much to be considered independent thinking. Let's not pretend this is case of being unaware of the previous product, this a deliberate act. Even if I bless everyone else involved in this including who it was shown to and Murphy’s Magic with complete ignorance, I have to question the morals of this magician.
These days releasing a magic trick can make your name and make you a decent amount of money. You just need the wholesaler Murphy’s Magic to buy it and you have probably made a decent pile, plus as most on-line magic shops are tied to Murphy’s it will appear on every magic shops’ website for sale.
There is no barrier.
As in this case, Mr Whoops can copy an effect, sell it and make some cash quickly. Let’s face it the development can’t take long as someone has done it all for you, all the routines and everything. The only thing stopping any of us doing so, is our personal ethics and morals.
To quote Potter Stewart:
“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.”
The magician behind this release feels that replicating another magician’s creative work is fine. He is failing to see the bigger picture, we stand on the shoulders of giants, to just duplicate hurts magic, takes it backwards and is theft. Nor is Mr Whoops considering how upsetting it is for someone to have their work stolen either, he is blinded by the money.
I can’t think of another art where this would be accepted, even comedy has managed to clamp down on it and it has had some dark days.
To make matters worse, the person behind this, is a member of The Magic Circle as are the other people in the trailer. In fact, the trailer was filmed at The Magic Circle Headquarters in London. Wouldn’t you expect more from members of such a lauded club, known for upholding ethics in magic. I assumed this would be against the clubs rules?
I don’t expect Mr Whoops, will get any retribution for this, he is no doubt chuffed to have made some money and can laugh his way to the bank. How can we stop this from happening? I have no idea, you can’t force ethics and morals on anyone. The big company stocking this doesn’t care and who can hold them to account?
Meanwhile I have several copies of his knock-off, bought and paid for. What do I do?
Try and sell them quickly, return them at a loss to Murphy’s (who will resell them), ask Mr Whoops to compensate me or just burn them?
You decide - comment below.