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Crediting Magic

Crediting Magic

(Editorial by Steve Beam)

Crediting magical ideas and concepts is an important part of our art. For this reason, I have reprinted the article below from issue #31 of The Trapdoor.  

Occasionally in the past, I have found it necessary to turn my back on the commercial ways of our capitalistic system and turn over this section of the magazine to more important issues. This is one of those times. I am now leading you where many magazines fear to tread. I am moving toward the controversial topic known as crediting magic. You won't see reckless abandon such as this in any of the slick sheets. Only The Trapdoor demonstrates the courage, not to mention the lack of other worthwhile items, necessary to attack the crediting of ideas. 

I have often found that the best way to learn is by example. The examples I will use are in the form of the "word problems" you became acquainted with in your two years of 8th grade algebra. I will present a scenario. I will then ask a question regarding the situation. You should decide upon your answer prior to consulting the correct answer which immediately follows. 
Test Question #1: Don Morris and Steve Beam are having a card session. Don has an idea but left his deck in the other room. He borrows Steve's deck and demonstrates a dramatically new principle which will revolutionize card magic. For future magic historians, whose principle is it?

Answer: While Don did have an idea, he wasn't able to demonstrate it without Steve's deck which he had to borrow. This illustrates how Steve's input was critical. Without it, nobody would ever have had the opportunity to see the principle. Therefore, the principle belongs to Steve. 

Test Question #2: Several weeks later Don and Steve are at it again. After the events described above, Don brings a full gross of decks of cards along with him. Don has an idea. He checks the ownership of the deck he is holding before demonstrating the idea. Steve was previously unfamiliar with the principle. Whose idea is it?

Answer:  If you answered Don, you were clearly confused. While the ownership of the cards had been established prior to the demonstration of the idea, card ownership is not everything. Steve owned the close-up mat, the card table, and the folding chairs which were necessary for the demonstration of the trick. Without these mood items, Don wouldn't even have been thinking along the lines of card magic. 
Test Question #3: A few weeks later, Don and Steve are sessioning again. They are over at Steve's house. Don has brought two gross of cards, a card table, two folding chairs, and a close-up mat. Don originates and demonstrates an idea. Who gets the credit?

Answer: While this resembles the first two questions to the untrained mind, it is totally different. If you chose Don, it is easy to see where you went wrong. However, these technicalities and details are all important when it comes to establishing credit for future historians and ignorance is no excuse.

Sure, Don technically had title to the cards, mats, tables, and chairs. But, so does everyone else who throws a sit down party. And, you don't see them asking for credit for Steve's card tricks, do you? Steve owns the house. Without the house, there would be nowhere to put the tables, chairs, mats, and 288 decks of cards. Besides, Don wouldn't have been thinking about card tricks if he were outside. It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Test Question #4: Don invites Steve over to his new house for a session. Don provides everything. He demonstrates an original idea. Who gets the credit?

Answer:  Surely by now you have caught on and chosen the obvious answer, Steve. Steve found out that Don was buying a house, no doubt just to establish ownership of the card tricks developed within. Steve bought stock in the mortgage company through which Don bought the house. Since the mortgage company owns more of the house than Don does, and since Steve owns more of the Mortgage company than Don does, Steve owns the rights to the tricks developed within said house. Our law firm, Shyster & Shyster assured us that this concept of law has stood the test of time and numerous court challenges. 

Test Question #5: Would the answer to question #5 have been any different had Steve not owned 0.000001% interest in the Mortgage company?

Answer: No. Steve holds an option on the land which creates the throughway to Don's house which predates Don's title to Don's house. Without Steve allowing Don to cross Steve's property, Don would not have access to his own property.  Then, he would have been forced to live elsewhere and session over at Steve's house. Consult questions 1 through 3 to see who gets the credit when the sessioning is done at Steve's house. 

Test Question #6: This scenario occurs in a neutral third-world country, with props, tables, chairs, mats, and 800 decks of playing cards (all of which were shipped over by Don). Don provides all property, props, land, and throughways.  He has purchased options on all ways in and out of the neighborhood. Most importantly, he has witnesses. He demonstrates an original idea. Who gets the credit?

Answer:  Credit for the trick belongs to Steve. This is a foreign country and Don forgot to get witnesses that understood English. 
Test Question #7:  This next scenario occurs just weeks before Steve's mortgage company forecloses on Don's house. The foreclosure was made necessary because Don was trying to pay off all land he had bought in a third world country which just last week underwent a coup and financial restructuring.

Steve was back at Don's house. Everything was Don's, including the right of way which he purchased from Steve at an enormous price. Don demonstrates an original trick which is later published in The Trapdoor. Who gets the credit?

Answer: Of course, this was a "gimme".  Since Steve owns the magazine, he decides who gets the credit for anything published within. And, since Don's copy of this particular issue will be lost in the mail, he won't know about it anyway. There's no point in mentioning Don, even under one of the staples as Steve usually does.

Conclusion: I hope this test has helped to clear up any confusion you may have had regarding the crediting of magic ideas. All too often novices try venture into this legal arena where one must be a lawyer (or at least a shyster) to compete.  I sincerely hope that you will recognize high moral standards when you see them and will find The Trapdoor a worthy outlet for your material. Feel free to contribute all new principles and tricks to me. It is not even necessary that you include your name on the envelope or the contents. I like to make contributing painless and trouble free. 

                                     Copyright 1990, 1995 by Steven L. Beam

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