Cut, Copy, Paste
On July 25 this year I had the honour of seeing one of my magic ideas (Rubber Band Through Card) published on one of the world’s largest magic retail websites. This would have been a fantastic moment for me had I been the one to release it.
Obviously curious, I purchased the familiar looking, but differently named, trick only to find it frighteningly similar to something I released three years prior in 2015. It mirrored my trick in:
- Teaching, and
The video was subtitled, but the translation used many of the same words and phrases in its advertising, and even followed very similar steps in teaching the method.
It is easy to think that I was directly copied, but as a songwriter I am very aware of how one person’s creative process can overlap another’s. My concern was not that my effect was stolen, it is that, no matter how independently conceived, it is just too similar.
For an almost identical trick to be released on a web marketing juggernaut like this, runs a huge risk of overshadowing my work in all series of online forums and markets. Essentially, my original trick could become known as the “other” version or referred to as “just like” this more robustly advertised clone.
I reached out to the magic company in private. I asked for them to discuss the issue with me so that we could clarify if the trick was indeed too similar.
After a few requests I managed to get in touch with one of there core members who was kind enough to review my work and compare the similarities.
Side note: When they asked for a copy of my method for RBTC, I very nearly replied saying “You have a copy! You’re selling a copy of it!” but I took the high road and sent them a copy of the video.
According to them, the 3 levels that classify an effect’s originality are:
When comparing our two versions of the same trick, it was deemed that the tricks “have the same foundations” but a different plot and alternate handling.
I accepted that mathematically it could be proven that the two tricks were different enough to both be sold separately. Unfortunately there is just no way to accurately measure the “feel” of the effect which I believe to be almost identical.
“In all honesty the hole actually adds something more … as you’re proving the magic by having it stop in a hole halfway.”
The email from the core member of this magic company continued saying:
“Some could consider yours superior as it has the hole plot/handling to it.“
Regardless of the circumstances, it was great to have my work reviewed by a company that I have been a member of for many years, and hold a great deal of respect for.
RBTC (Rubber Band Through Card)
I will let you be the judge as to which effect is more deserving of your US$4. I have learned a little more about the industry through this experience and I want to make it clear that I don’t hold any grudges.
However, I will be very hesitant to release material publicly that I am unable to clearly claim later as my own creation. There is simply too great a risk these days of even a demonstration being reverse engineered.
I look forward to sharing some of my new material with you all very soon!