Thanks for comments and emails on my previous entry on the “Many Facets of Originality”.
I thought it would be a good time then to talk about the flip side of originality – piracy in magic, specifically in Singapore magic shops.
Magic, unfortunately has a tremendous amount of piracy that includes pirating effects, acts, props, entire routines and marketing material/ strategies.
While I could talk about the subject of piracy for pages, I do not have the time or energy to do so because it will just be a rant.
Ning & I are fortunate that piracy does not affect us; although, we have been victims of piracy, particularly in our marketing material and strategies. (It is tough for a single magician to pirate a duo act and tougher for anyone else to try to be a ‘Magic Babe’).
I can show you concrete proof of blatant ripoffs of website copy by both local and overseas professionals. But, that is just an inconvenience to us. We simple change and move one step further away from the pirate competitor.
However, in this entry I want to highlight piracy of magic props & DVDs in magic shops in Singapore. I think it is an interesting fact that Singapore has more magic shops per square kilometer than any other country in the world. Magic shops (I’m referring to physical shops not online ones) are sprouting up across the country.
The very sad fact is that many of the shops blatantly and knowingly sell pirated goods. In particular, one shop that touts itself as the largest magic shop in Orchard at Meridien as well as a push-cart at Plaza Singapura is probably the worst.
I can’t begin to tell you how many magic enthusiasts have complained to Ning & myself about being cheated by this dishonest shop. Even friends from overseas have complained about being cheated with a pirated & poor version of the “moving pips” card effect. Most recently, I’ve been told that they are now selling pirated versions of a popular product by Yigal Mesika. Renting original DVDs to ‘members’, that are not meant to be rented, may be a legal loophole but is nevertheless unethical. Sigh..
While it does not affect me business-wise in anyway, what pisses me off is that they are cheating the uninformed and making $ off the art dishonestly, unethically and unscrupulously. Their actions show a lot of their character or more accurately lack of character; this includes the professional magicians who are commercially associated with them.
It is disappointing.
The reason they have to pirate or sell magic secrets that are not theirs to give is is very simple. If they did not, they will go out of business. Personally, I feel, if you can’t make an honest and ethical in magic, then the business is not for you. Go sell stamps or something.
As an established professional in this business who owes a lot to this art, I despise anyone who rapes the art for profit or gain.
I’m also disappointed with magicians who condone such piracy and unethical business practices by these magic shops. If you are in a position to do or say something and you don’t, you are condoning the unethical practices. Among themselves, they talk big about being against piracy but when there is a chance to speak about it in the open or on a public forum, they shrink away. In simple words, they are scared to ruffle a few feathers; isn’t this so hypocritical when they claim to be proponents of elevating the magic art :-S
What I’m really proud about Ning, who also runs her an online magic shop ‘Magic Boutique’, is her zero tolerance policy to piracy. She will not knowingly sell a pirated item. Of course, the piraters will claim she can do so because her main income does not come from the shop but as a professional performer. Erm… true. but that is not an excuse or reason for a pirater to pirate.
You might be wondering what you can do, as a reader of this blog. Very simple:
1) Warn all your friends not to patronize this magic shop or any shop that has unethical business practices.
2) If you or know anyone who have felt they have been victims of unethical business practices from this shop – lodge a complain with CASE (www.case.org.sg)
3) If you know of pirated items being sold or bought one, lodge a complain with CASE who will bring it up to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) who in turn will refer the matter to the CID Commercial Crimes Division if there are multiple complains.
I know nothing else can be done so this is all I can do on my part. This blog gets about 10,000 views a month, Ning gets 3 times the readership. So, between the two of us, hopefully the message can be spread.
If you have a blog, feel free to link it to this entry.