Ethics

Apr 5, 2009
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Illinois
I noticed we hadnt discussed ethics in a while, and i didnt want the community to grow lax and lose sight of their morals.

so. i figured i'd pop out a few magic related ethics questions, and start a discussion. i'll post my answers and stuff later.

-is exposure of any kind OK?

-what if you figure it out from a demo video?
1. after watching it a million times with the intent to discover the method
2. the first time, and it just hit you
3. you get an idea for how you would do it, but you dont think thats how its
done
- what about cardistry? its not built upon secrets.

- performance and patter rights?

- how much can be said for the legality of the issue?

- public libraries? if its there the library has permission for it, but should we use it anyway?

thats really all i could think of; have at it fellas.
 
May 31, 2008
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-is exposure of any kind OK?

Yes, if you create an effect that uses only sleights in the public domain, you can give it away for free. If you want to make a video tutorial teaching public-domain moves and effects you can, because you're not harming the creators of an effect, plus, you can find that information anywhere anyway. Though I don't see why you would want to waste your time teaching a move that's already all over the internet.

-what if you figure it out from a demo video?

You should not perform the effect, or support the artist and buy the effect. Though I have wondered lately how much goes to the creator, and how much goes to the vender.

1. after watching it a million times with the intent to discover the method

That just isn't right. The artist put is time and most-likely money into put the effect out there. Plus, you're not going to get nearly enough insight as to how to perform the effect anyway.

2. the first time, and it just hit you

You either buy the effect, or don't perform it.

3. you get an idea for how you would do it, but you dont think thats how its done

I'm a bit split on this one. The artist came up with the idea, and you came up with a different way of doing the same thing. It's similar to stealing an idea, just not the method. I think it's sort of okay to perform your own version of an effect if you haven't bought it. Then again, if you haven't bought, there's really no way of telling that your method is different.

- what about cardistry? its not built upon secrets.

This is tougher. Obviously you'll get more info about how to perform the flourish (I myself can't understand how to do a particular cut/flourish without being walked through it) You should support the artist if you plan on performing the flourish. You wouldn't exercise using a commercial for an exercise video. (Maybe that isn't a valid point, I'll have to think about this one more)

- performance and patter rights?

I'm not 100% sure, but I think you can get some sort of exclusive television performance right. My Stigmata DVD, and my Healed 'n' Sealed booklet (I think, I don't have HnS anymore) said that John Doe has exclusive television performing rights.

A lot of people say that you should always come up with your own presentation, and not use the one taught in the Book/DVD/Download/Booklet. I consider that BS. You always need a good presentation, and often the one given in the instructions is a little lacking, but when the presentation is good, and you can't think of anything better, go for it.

- how much can be said for the legality of the issue?

I saw a slide show about copyright, fair use etc. in a computer class I took last year, and as far as I known, you can't copyright physical movements, only concrete things. Then again, there's the television performance right thing.

- public libraries? if its there the library has permission for it, but should we use it anyway?

If a public library has a magic book, the book itself, or the moves disclosed in it are most likely public domain, which means there is nothing wrong with performing effects and sleights out of a library book.
 
Apr 5, 2009
874
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Illinois
davey i just wanted to thank you for a response!

back on subject.

i agree with you pretty much 98%

a couple things.

the library... is it always going to be public domain material? i wasnt aware of this.

what if i see for the first time, a coins through table. am i allowed to come up with my own method, presentation, patter, everything? or is it because somebody else had the idea to put a coin through a table magically, i cant do it?

lets go more modern... uh, stairway, i had been fiddling with rubberbands months before 5 came out. and i came up with a single rubberband method before i even knew about stairway. then i started working on one with two rubberbands. but i came up with a few moves i think might be in there, but its hard to tell.

am i allowed to perform my (heck, we'll call it...) stair-steps? or do i have to buy stairway first?
 
May 31, 2008
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davey i just wanted to thank you for a response!

back on subject.

i agree with you pretty much 98%

a couple things.

the library... is it always going to be public domain material? i wasnt aware of this.

Every effect I've seen in a library book has been stuff that can be learned anywhere. It's usually stuff like double lifts and French Drops. Granted I haven't seen many, although I did read every magic book in my elementary school library. (Two books, took me 20 minutes)

what if i see for the first time, a coins through table. am i allowed to come up with my own method, presentation, patter, everything? or is it because somebody else had the idea to put a coin through a table magically, i cant do it?

This is tough, since you got the idea of putting coins through a table, it would be a nice gesture to purchase the effect, but I honestly probably wouldn't do that if I was 100% sure that the method was different. The only problem is that you can never know for sure that your method is different from the marketed version.

lets go more modern... uh, stairway, i had been fiddling with rubberbands months before 5 came out. and i came up with a single rubberband method before i even knew about stairway. then i started working on one with two rubberbands. but i came up with a few moves i think might be in there, but its hard to tell.

am i allowed to perform my (heck, we'll call it...) stair-steps? or do i have to buy stairway first?

This is a different, because you came up with the idea and method before Stairway came out. You have stolen nothing. (I use the word "stolen" loosely) Then there's always the fact that you can't know for sure that your method is different. Since Stairway is so reasonably-priced, I would go ahead and pick it up, you may find a better method, but in a situation like this, I wouldn't hold it against you if you didn't buy the effect and continued to perform it. If you had came up with your method after the official release of Stairway, I would strongly advise you to buy it.
 
Apr 5, 2009
874
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27
Illinois
Every effect I've seen in a library book has been stuff that can be learned anywhere. It's usually stuff like double lifts and French Drops. Granted I haven't seen many, although I did read every magic book in my elementary school library. (Two books, took me 20 minutes)



This is tough, since you got the idea of putting coins through a table, it would be a nice gesture to purchase the effect, but I honestly probably wouldn't do that if I was 100% sure that the method was different. The only problem is that you can never know for sure that your method is different from the marketed version.



This is a different, because you came up with the idea and method before Stairway came out. You have stolen nothing. (I use the word "stolen" loosely) Then there's always the fact that you can't know for sure that your method is different. Since Stairway is so reasonably-priced, I would go ahead and pick it up, you may find a better method, but in a situation like this, I wouldn't hold it against you if you didn't buy the effect and continued to perform it. If you had came up with your method after the official release of Stairway, I would strongly advise you to buy it.


good stuff man! i was really hoping others would jump in on this.
 
Feb 16, 2009
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South Bend, IN
One reason why people don't respond to these threads is because they seldom achieve anything constructive. The best that can happen is a restatement of personal opinions and definitions. The worst - everyone misses the key points and starts arguing about irrelevant stuff.

Keeping that in mind, let's continue.

I noticed we hadnt discussed ethics in a while, and i didnt want the community to grow lax and lose sight of their morals.

That sounds very preachy my friend. Not the best introduction to this thread.

-is exposure of any kind OK?

Any kind of gratuitous exposure isn't ok. If the exposure could be justified as essential (for example a pseudo exposure routine like the silk to egg), then I don't have a problem with it.

Also if you happened to come up with something completely original and want to give it away, there should be no problem.

Exposure at its heart is more of a theatrical issue than a moral issue, but that is a whole other discussion.

-what if you figure it out from a demo video?
1. after watching it a million times with the intent to discover the method

If you watched it a million times to figure it out, you would surely benefit from buying the product and getting some good instruction. I would say buy it at least for that reason.

2. the first time, and it just hit you

Does the trick use basic ideas/principles which are already in print in a thousand places? Do you have a number of books/DVDs where these things are already present? In that case, I'm not sure there is a problem. I would buy the trick if it involved original twists to old ideas or maybe some new bits of business, but if it is regurgitated material, I'm not too bothered.

Also, do you perform professionally for pay? I would be more likely to buy something if I intended to perform it professionally.

3. you get an idea for how you would do it, but you dont think thats how its done

This is tricky, but I'd say do your variation (if you are confident no one has done it before). If you want to publish or release it, it is a different story and you should get permission.

- performance and patter rights?

If it is published or released, I believe the consumer should get performance rights. I don't like the idea of someone withholding performance rights after releasing an effect. If you want it to be a secret, don't release it.

- public libraries? if its there the library has permission for it, but should we use it anyway?

I have no problem with public libraries at all. It is a no brainer in my opinion.
 
Apr 5, 2009
874
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Illinois
yeah being a bit preachy happens sometimes, it rubs off from too much pew time as a younger child. (still a child)

i liked what you said about performing it professionally as opposed to just for friends and family.

then it becomes making money off of somebody elses work that you didnt pay them for. but just hanging with friends is different. your not making money, royal road has the moves in it. why not?

great post descartes. (thanks)
 
Apr 22, 2009
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I know I will be yelled at for this, but I don't see anything unethical in figuring out a method without buying it. You have not commited piracy, you have not stolen, the product itself was not illegally exposed. You in your own intelligence were able to come up with a method. Maybe even THE method. People have watched tricks that I have originally thought of, figured them out, and said, "Thanks for the trick, I like it." I say, "Glad you like it, hope it's useful." They didn't buy it from me! I mean, is it wrong to play a song by ear without buying sheat music? I say no. You have put your own work into being able to play the song, someone just showed you the end product. The same way with a magic trick: You see the end product, and you put your own work into coming up with a solution. Now of course, blatant exposure is just wrong, and is piracy. It's one thing for a magician to find out with his own intelligence, it's another for a laymen to just get it for free on youtube. :p

Now on the other hand, while figuring out a trick may be fine, it may not be PRACTICAL. Think about it, the best advice you can get on something is from the one who created it. I've figured out different tricks before, but in realizing I was lacking in certain areas, bought it to get more help, and perform it the most effective way.

To each his own, but these are just my opinions.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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If it is published or released, I believe the consumer should get performance rights. I don't like the idea of someone withholding performance rights after releasing an effect. If you want it to be a secret, don't release it.

It isn't a question of secrecy but whether or not you are aloud to perform the trick for media or live performances.

Did you know I can purchase a book of plays at barnes and noble, but cannot perform the same plays for a live audience? Some things you just have to purchase or even ask the creator of presentations if you can in fact perform the particular presentation to the public. You see this a lot in stage illusions. Some people are licensed and have permission from the creator of the illusion to build said illusion for sale and performance.

An example would be the Origami illusion, originally designed by Jim Steinmeyer. The only licensed builders of this illusion is John Gaughan and Wellington Enterprise. Yet with that said, there are many knock offs of the original.
 
Feb 16, 2009
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South Bend, IN
It isn't a question of secrecy but whether or not you are aloud to perform the trick for media or live performances.

Did you know I can purchase a book of plays at barnes and noble, but cannot perform the same plays for a live audience?

I would like to know who these playwrights/authors are.

My question is why publish a play with such crippling restrictions? Where is the sense in simply reading plays as dry prose, never to be performed by actors?

The whole thing is so self defeating if you ask me. Next thing I know someone will release a book of poems and there will be a gag order against me reciting the poetry in a monthly book club meeting. It is ridiculous.

Some things you just have to purchase or even ask the creator of presentations if you can in fact perform the particular presentation to the public. You see this a lot in stage illusions. Some people are licensed and have permission from the creator of the illusion to build said illusion for sale and performance.

An example would be the Origami illusion, originally designed by Jim Steinmeyer. The only licensed builders of this illusion is John Gaughan and Wellington Enterprise. Yet with that said, there are many knock offs of the original.

Stage illusions are a different matter because it requires specific apparatus to make things happen. The apparatus can be covered by licenses or perhaps patents. That doesn't compare with restrictions on performing a play.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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I would like to know who these playwrights/authors are.

My question is why publish a play with such crippling restrictions? Where is the sense in simply reading plays as dry prose, never to be performed by actors?

I love reading plays, if I never see it actually performed live I am fine with it. Besides I enjoy being able to imagine my own actors in my head.

If a writer never publishes his work will he ever make it into the public eye? Play writes can publish their works to the general public, however if you want to perform the work, you have to ask permission first. Some play writes have royalties that are required to be paid. An example of this would be the play being put on at a Seattle Children's play house, "According to Coyote." John Kauffman published this one act play based on indian creation stories. Do you not think they do not have to pay royalties to the original writer?

Here is a less obscure example. You can go here and purchase the entire play script including music for "Sweeney Todd." However buying this does not give you performance rights to do this play live.

The whole thing is so self defeating if you ask me. Next thing I know someone will release a book of poems and there will be a gag order against me reciting the poetry in a monthly book club meeting. It is ridiculous.

Nah you are splitting hairs which is making the thought ridiculous. If you were to recite the poetry at like a poetry hearing, not only will you get laughed off the stage, if you didn't get permission or give proper credit to the original author you may face legal problems.



Stage illusions are a different matter because it requires specific apparatus to make things happen. The apparatus can be covered by licenses or perhaps patents. That doesn't compare with restrictions on performing a play.

Of course it does, Disney's Beauty and the Beast has many stage illusions within it that are restricted much like a performing play, some times you even have to rent certain stage props to do certain things.

"Stage illusions are a different matter because it requires specific apparatus to make things happen."

Alright then, is it all right then if I make my own Distortion gimmick? How about making my own WOW sleeve. They aren't stage illusions so I suppose I can make these ethically. Oh and hey! Maybe I will sell the effect under the name of the Illusion sleeve, because they aren't covered by law like stage illusions are.

My point is just because you bought an effect, if you are about to copy paste it into a running act it may be ethical to ask the creator.

trust me when I say, there are many knock off close up effects out there.
http://magicfakers.blogspot.com/2007/10/appearing-broom.html
 
Dec 26, 2009
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I know I will be yelled at for this, but I don't see anything unethical in figuring out a method without buying it. You have not commited piracy, you have not stolen, the product itself was not illegally exposed. You in your own intelligence were able to come up with a method. Maybe even THE method. People have watched tricks that I have originally thought of, figured them out, and said, "Thanks for the trick, I like it." I say, "Glad you like it, hope it's useful." They didn't buy it from me! I mean, is it wrong to play a song by ear without buying sheat music? I say no. You have put your own work into being able to play the song, someone just showed you the end product. The same way with a magic trick: You see the end product, and you put your own work into coming up with a solution. Now of course, blatant exposure is just wrong, and is piracy. It's one thing for a magician to find out with his own intelligence, it's another for a laymen to just get it for free on youtube. :p

Now on the other hand, while figuring out a trick may be fine, it may not be PRACTICAL. Think about it, the best advice you can get on something is from the one who created it. I've figured out different tricks before, but in realizing I was lacking in certain areas, bought it to get more help, and perform it the most effective way.

To each his own, but these are just my opinions.

I am with you 100% Mark. The way I see it there wouldn't be 500 different types of the pass if it weren't for people seeing the classic pass and reverse engineering it to get their own version. As far as learning from watching demo vids and TV specials, there is a video of Dan and Dave that I saw one time where they talk about when they were just starting magic. They said they used to record the Blaine specials off of TV onto VHS tape and they would watch and rewind tricks over and over again until they figured them out.

Staying on the path of the Buck twins there is also the beginner video here on Theory11 where the Bucks tell beginner magicians to go to the public library and check out all the books on magic they can.

Now don't get me wrong I am not putting everything I believe in the hands of Dan and Dave. I am just telling you what I have heard them say, to give you a view point from a couple of mainstream magicians.

On to what I believe now, If I am talking to another magician or magicians I see nothing wrong with talking freely about magic. We are all magicians so why can't we talk about magic? I recently got the Theory11 1on1 for the VCR change by Apollo Robbins. In the demo video for it Apollo says Chris Kenner showed him the change and then says Chris Kenner learned it from the book Technical Knock Out. This makes me wonder, in showing the trick did Kenner also teach the trick to Apollo or did Kenner just show Apollo the trick and tell him where to learn it? Apollo never mentions where he learned the VCR change, he only says Kenner showed it to him.

I just think it's a little ridiculous that we, as magicians, aren't supposed to talk to each other about magic. But, I know for a fact that there are a few mainstream Magicians (some of which are Theory11 artists) that I have personally talked to that share their knowledge of magic with other magicians.

As far as reverse engineering a trick you see from a demo video, how can you be stealing when the only thing you can be 100% is the same is the end result of the trick? Unless you buy the trick of the demo vid you just watched you have no idea of how the trick is done.

So in response to DaveyG, you had mentioned something about not stealing the method but stealing the idea. If this was the case then no version of the Triumph routine is original, no version of a color change is original, and nothing as simple as a pick a card find a card is original. So in other words, there isn't much in magic that would original if stealing ideas was wrong, and 90% of Jay Sankey's stuff would be wrongfully produced if the thought of stealing ideas was real.
 
Apr 5, 2009
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27
Illinois
I am with you 100% Mark. The way I see it there wouldn't be 500 different types of the pass if it weren't for people seeing the classic pass and reverse engineering it to get their own version. As far as learning from watching demo vids and TV specials, there is a video of Dan and Dave that I saw one time where they talk about when they were just starting magic. They said they used to record the Blaine specials off of TV onto VHS tape and they would watch and rewind tricks over and over again until they figured them out.

Staying on the path of the Buck twins there is also the beginner video here on Theory11 where the Bucks tell beginner magicians to go to the public library and check out all the books on magic they can.

Now don't get me wrong I am not putting everything I believe in the hands of Dan and Dave. I am just telling you what I have heard them say, to give you a view point from a couple of mainstream magicians.

On to what I believe now, If I am talking to another magician or magicians I see nothing wrong with talking freely about magic. We are all magicians so why can't we talk about magic? I recently got the Theory11 1on1 for the VCR change by Apollo Robbins. In the demo video for it Apollo says Chris Kenner showed him the change and then says Chris Kenner learned it from the book Technical Knock Out. This makes me wonder, in showing the trick did Kenner also teach the trick to Apollo or did Kenner just show Apollo the trick and tell him where to learn it? Apollo never mentions where he learned the VCR change, he only says Kenner showed it to him.

I just think it's a little ridiculous that we, as magicians, aren't supposed to talk to each other about magic. But, I know for a fact that there are a few mainstream Magicians (some of which are Theory11 artists) that I have personally talked to that share their knowledge of magic with other magicians.

As far as reverse engineering a trick you see from a demo video, how can you be stealing when the only thing you can be 100% is the same is the end result of the trick? Unless you buy the trick of the demo vid you just watched you have no idea of how the trick is done.

So in response to DaveyG, you had mentioned something about not stealing the method but stealing the idea. If this was the case then no version of the Triumph routine is original, no version of a color change is original, and nothing as simple as a pick a card find a card is original. So in other words, there isn't much in magic that would original if stealing ideas was wrong, and 90% of Jay Sankey's stuff would be wrongfully produced if the thought of stealing ideas was real.

awesome post shindrichs. making me question my own opinions.
 
Feb 16, 2009
217
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South Bend, IN
OK. I admit I did not check things out completely regarding the issue of performing plays. I guess it is a question of whether a publisher fully owns the rights for the play and how they wish to enforce it.

Alright then, is it all right then if I make my own Distortion gimmick? How about making my own WOW sleeve. They aren't stage illusions so I suppose I can make these ethically. Oh and hey! Maybe I will sell the effect under the name of the Illusion sleeve, because they aren't covered by law like stage illusions are.

I feel it is not ethical to copy gimmicks. However, it might not be illegal.

Ethics is different from legality. That is part of the reason why Magic Makers is successful. They know that it is hard for creators to successfully litigate against them. If the gimmick is patented, the creator has something to fight with. Otherwise, not so much.
 
Sep 30, 2009
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48
Elkhart, IN
This is just my two cents...

As my art teacher once said "as long as you change (one) thing then it is no longer copying".

Now keeping that in mind...

1. Do you change the "method" or

2. change the patter to make it your own.

I do not promote exposure but some time in our young or old lives we decided that we wanted to "learn" magic and searched it out. If not for the books we read or videos we have seen, we too would not know how things are done.

I believe most people in the world know that there is a (shall I say "trick") to what we do. It's not knowing that "trick" that makes people want to know. And it is up to us to keep them guessing.
 
Jan 10, 2008
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Hey guys, this is a very touchy subject for me. I will give you simply opinions, and may the reader not take this the wrong way. All I could say to this topic, are simply personal beliefs derived from my own experience.

First and foremost, I do not pirate any form of entertainment or art; whether it's books, DVDs, music, etc. Everything I own, I can honestly say I own, whether I won it or worked for it, I sacrificed something for it.

I do however, converse with professional magician's from time to time and beginners/intermediate students almost every day. I am more than willing to share knowledge with somebody that I know will take it seriously. The knowledge I share with magi are stuff that's buried in books. Sometimes, all I give the student is simply a resource in which to find it. I very rarely, give the workings of an effect, right to the magician; unless they are persistent. With that being said, I NEVER explain marketed items. I will merely give the student my opinion about it.

Recently, I realized that I was disobeying a vow that I made to myself when I joined the S.A.M (Society of American Magicians) and the I.B.M. (International Brotherhood of Magicians) in the Spring of 2000. I was disobeying the vow of secrecy which I pledged to uphold. How? By publishing 13 performances (and by calling them performances I am doing a great injustice to MY magic) on Youtube. Once I came to the realization two months ago that I cannot 'perform' on Youtube, I deleted my account.

As far as actual performance goes, I practice in front of magician friends, sure. I NEVER perform anything that is not polished for the public. Everything that I do for the public I have spent months, and in some cases years, perfecting.

These are just a few of the many personal guidelines that I set for myself, regarding ethics, and I try my best to uphold them.
 
May 31, 2008
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So in response to DaveyG, you had mentioned something about not stealing the method but stealing the idea. If this was the case then no version of the Triumph routine is original, no version of a color change is original, and nothing as simple as a pick a card find a card is original. So in other words, there isn't much in magic that would original if stealing ideas was wrong, and 90% of Jay Sankey's stuff would be wrongfully produced if the thought of stealing ideas was real.

You are correct.
 
Dec 26, 2009
242
0
I believe most people in the world know that there is a (shall I say "trick") to what we do. It's not knowing that "trick" that makes people want to know. And it is up to us to keep them guessing.


Let me be a little more clear about what I believe. I DO NOT think it is ethical to put a tutorial vid on youtube about how (using this as an example) Crush by Eric Ross is done, but if I am in a chat room talking to other magicians I find nothing wrong in talking freely between the magicians in the chat on what we think the method to Crush might be.

There is a huge difference in guessing what a method might be and full on taking out Crush and showing us what it is.

To stay on the topic of youtube I think the biggest problem with youtube vids isn't the fact that they are making tutorials, because unless you know the name of the trick then you can't just look it up. I think it is people making vids and using incorrect angles or poor quality cameras to record the trick. So in all reality I believe that the poor angles and frame rate on youtube vids hurt magic more than the youtube tutorials hurt magic.

To clarify what I mean by this let me use an example. If you perform a card to mouth or card to pocket during a routine a spec can search youtube and find hundreds of videos on card to mouth or pocket and see just as much from a performance video as they would from a tutorial video, because of the bad angle of the camera.

It is for this reason that I use vimeo most of the time, but youtube is allowing to make videos "unlisted" now which works well for magic videos.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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I just think it's a little ridiculous that we, as magicians, aren't supposed to talk to each other about magic. But, I know for a fact that there are a few mainstream Magicians (some of which are Theory11 artists) that I have personally talked to that share their knowledge of magic with other magicians.

Of course you can share magical knowledge with other magicians. Just not on a forum where bum****nobody can waltz in and see it (Cough cough LMT Forum). Heck word of mouth was the only way most magic secrets where distributed before the internet. But when you post something so openly, you are mass producing it to everyone. What goes on in a chatroom is possibly only heard by those in the chat room. If someone where to post it on a forum, or youtube, EVERYONE can see it, which can be destructive.

Share the secret of crush to someone = One person who knows the effect.

Share the effect openly (forums, youtube, etc.) = Thousands of people who know the effect or who now have free access to the effect's workings.

Anyway not sure if that is what you meant, but that is what was stimulated out of me haha.


Silver

Edit note:

Well seeing your post above implies to me you share similar views. Disregard.
 
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