UPDATE: Magic Magazine columnist Joshua Jay agrees with both Mayne and Steinmeyer that the paper doesn’t fully grasp the industry. Also, welcome Techdirt readers.
A few influential tech blogs, including Boing Boing and Techdirt, have picked up on the Yale paper we alerted you to last week which explores the idea that magic has developed a sense of self-policing in absence of hard intellectual property rights and the legal options (i.e. the ability to sue for exclusivity) that come with them.
Both trumpeted the study as “another example” of where creativity flourishes despite property rights, but some prominent magic creators have a different view.
“The paper lacks any actual economic research and most of all lacks input from magic creators. Creative people are constantly pulled from magic to places where intellectual property is better recognized,” said Andrew Mayne, who has worked with David Blaine, Penn and Teller and David Copperfield.
Meanwhile, Jim Steinmeyer the legendary magic inventor mentioned in the paper (although not contacted) whose credits include, amongst countless others, designing David Copperfield’s Statue of Liberty vanish, consultation with Walt Disney’s Imagineering department as well as authoring some of the most respected books ever written about magic also finds the paper’s conclusions dubious and the application of them to other industries problematic.
“If we even say that it is working, it’s because it’s such a small industry,” Steinmeyer told iTricks. “No one is going to do a knock off Zig Zag at the Magic Castle. But that doesn’t apply to music industry because there is not just one Magic Castle.”
The paper itself, authored by Jacob Loshin of Yale portrays the magic industry’s social penalties as organic replacements for intellectual property law. Both the paper itself, as well as the blogs that linked to it compare magic to the fashion industry where knock-off products theoretically feed the desire of consumers for innovation. However, having worked in magic his entire career, Mayne has a few different ideas about the lessons to be learned from his field.
“I’ve always felt that magic should be used as a negative example of what happens when the only power rests in the people with the most money and rule of law is nonexistent,” said Mayne. “By comparison, the music industry with its system of royalties and tracking for song writers looks like a wonderful utopia filled with chocolate rivers, bubble gum trees and cotton candy orchards.”
We still have a few lines out to some other creators, so check back with later this story might sport a few interesting updates soon…