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Penguin Magic Guidelines for Ethics and Innovation


Version 1.0 - last updated July 22, 2004


What is involved in Magic Research and Development?
Why do we need a code of ethics and innovation?
What is the freedom to innovate?
Why is an open model good for innovation?
How does this progress the art of magic?
How does this benefit magicians?
When is a magic trick sufficiently innovative?
How is a magic trick properly cited?
What if proper historic references don't exist for citing?
How is a retail product properly cited?

 
What is involved in Magic Research and Development?

For hundreds of years, magicians have been innovating, developing and improving upon concepts that entertain, fool and mystify. This body of work continues to grow today as ever more magicians are discovering magic as a pastime. Few things compare to the sense of pride in creating something new that did not exist before. Just like doing research in any field, a magic trick is based on previously developed ideas. Hours are spent studying spectator reactions, designing, redesigning and polishing routines. We must not forget however that everything we do is based on the work of the thousands of magicians that came before us.
 
Why do we need a code of ethics and innovation?

Put formally, we need a set of guidelines to help in the preservation of the atmosphere of mutual trust and ethical behavior required for the magical arts to prosper. It is important to recognize the accomplishments and creations of those talented individuals that propel this art form into the future. It not only gives inventors a sense of pride and appreciation in their work, but it also creates awareness of their innovative ideas. It is also important to respect the unpublished property of a performing magician who uses their creations to earn a living. All magic tricks and material referred to by this set of guidelines are assumed to be published works.
 
What is the Freedom to Innovate?

Freedom to Innovate is an ideology based on progress. At its heart is the belief that freeing the driving force behind creativity in magic and fostering its growth will benefit all magicians. These guidelines attempt to accomplish this, while preserving the atmosphere of mutual trust that exists among members of the magic community.
 
Why is an open model good for innovation?

It is critical to the progress of magic as an art form that the published research and development in the magical arts be accessible for innovation to the magicians of the world without discrimination. This implies that a sufficiently innovative idea may be published given that it conforms to the guidelines of ethics and innovation outlined herein.

Innovation in all fields of research in the world is based on freedom of information. It is important in magic for new ideas and principles to disseminate and be built upon for the rate of progress in magic to increase. The magic community is quite small relative to communities in other more affluent areas of study. Because of this, it is crucial that members work closely together, collaborating with and encouraging one another to stimulate creativity.

One of the key misinterpretations of this view is the fear that somehow everyone in the general public will know all the secrets in magic, rendering magicians useless. It is important to note that Freedom to Innovate does not imply that secrets should be available freely to the general public. On the contrary, the purpose of the idea is to bring the magic community together and to inspire creativity. Equally important to note is that in practice, a very small percentage of the effectiveness of a magician's performance is the actual secret or method used. The vast majority of 'value' is the interaction, performance experience, and commitment to entertaining.
 
How does this progress the art of magic?

Making published research accessible allows for a greater number of minds to collaborate and innovate. The rate of progress can only benefit from an increase in ideas.
 
How does this benefit magicians?

Ultimately, the real winner is the performing magician. With more products and ideas flowing around the world than ever before, there are more choices and better selection for the performing magician's arsenal.
 
When is a magic trick sufficiently innovative?

In such a small market, it doesn't always make financial sense to patent an invention. Legally, this leaves magic tricks open to imitators. However, there are factors such as mutual trust and respect that have been the foundation of this creative community since its inception. Penguin Magic, in keeping with this tradition is committed to promoting innovation while preserving the spirit of magical brotherhood. A new magic trick must differ from its predecessors in some key way. This may be in function, or design. For purposes of refereeing, Penguin Magic will act as though all applicable magic related products do indeed have patent protection.
 
How is a magic trick properly cited?

When bringing a new idea into the field, it's important to recognize where the inspiration and founding principles of the effect came from. Additionally, magical principles and sleights involved in the methods of magic tricks should be properly cited to give credit to the inventor. It is the responsibility of the inventor of a magic trick to properly cite all relevant sources of information. A properly cited effect will contain a reference to the original sources, principles, moves and sleights involved, who discovered them, as well as where the originating effects can be found (DVD, book, notes or retail product).
 
What if proper historic references do not exist for citing?

It is important that a magic inventor endeavor to be knowledgeable in the field, especially about work related to their research. If however after sufficient research a specific source cannot be found for crediting, a general source should be given for inspiration, this being done as thoroughly as possible.
 
How is a retail product properly cited?

As a magic shop, Penguin Magic is one of the most popular sources for magical ideas and apparatus in the world. A huge part of buying a magic trick is the purchase of a secret. This makes citing details of products in the sales copy impractical. However, Penguin Magic is committed to making sure that the products it sells are properly cited in the instructions. Additionally, as a retailer it is Penguin Magic's goal to give customers the best buying experience possible. To make the buying decision as clear and easy as possible, Penguin Magic takes on the responsibility of citing which products are based on others and what the innovations and differences are.



These guidelines are not a complete expression of the principles that underlie them. The guidelines are not meant to be a complete list of all ethical issues. They will be modified and amplified by events and experience. These are guidelines, not a collection of rigid rules.

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