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51 entries from April 2008

Celebracadabra - starts this week

The first episode of CELEBRACADABRA is online now as a teaser at the official VH1 site here, but you can only view it if you're in the USA.

The series goes to air this week with episodes airing as follows:

Episode 1 -- April 27 (Introduction - Street Magic)
Episode 2 -- May 4 (Children's Magic)
Episode 3 -- May 11 (Comedy Magic.)
Episode 4 -- May 18 (Strolling Magic)
Episode 5 -- May 25 (Cabaret Magic)
Episode 6 -- June 8 (Escapes)
Episode 7 -- June 15 (The Road to the Finale)
Episode 8 -- June 22 (The Finale)
Episode 9 -- June 22 (Magician's Special)

James Clark's Mission Statement

Greetings everyone.

Some of you know me, some of you don't. Some of you like me, some of you won't. But ultimately, most of us can agree that piracy isn't a very positive thing for our community.

What I know for sure is that I'm not the kind of person to ignore a problem in the hopes that it will sort itself out. As a business owner and as an artist, I have a vested interest in finding solutions. And to be quite honest with you, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to piracy.

If we are going to successfully mitigate the negative consequences associated with the theft of both intellectual property (in all its forms, copy protected or not), we have to work together as a community to find those solutions. Open discussions and honest dialog go a long way, but ultimately, it is action of some sort that produces results.

Each site (and each site owner) must be handled individually. The owner of the site alluded to is an intelligent, technologically savvy, headstrong young man with a bright future if he can learn to use the skills he's garnered in more positive ways. Having researched him, his family, and having spoken with both him and his mother about this, I can see that he comes from a good family and that he is a good person, but he's clearly misguided and deluded about the consequences of his actions.

He was so smart in fact, that he deliberately resolved his domain name to and paid for hosting from a DNS that takes a hard line stance against anti-piracy efforts and actually harbors -- get this -- sites operated by a plethora of terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad, many of which are recognized by most liberal democracies as groups dedicated to extreme acts of physical violence against anyone they fundamentally disagree with. While his link to them would be tenuous at best, he is but one of many people who in a small way financially facilitate these other groups to continue to use the web for their benefit. I doubt he understands the latter.

Now, that is but an illustration of fact, not an opportunity or invitation by members here to debate terrorism or similar "causes" around the world, as that would be both fruitless and off topic. I'm not approaching this from the position of a hack who gets his information from the media. Having served in the military and as an investigator, I'm but using the skills I've garnered from nearly 20 years of service to properly investigate these sites and I document what I find appropriately. That is, I'm not offering antidotal evidence here laced with speculation and conjecture; I approach this as if I were the investigator responsible for building a case, and in many respects, I am doing just that should I have to provide it to the FBI or offer it in evidence at a civil case.

Ultimately, my intention was and continues to be to find a way to stem the hemorrhage we are all experiencing through a mix of strategies from direct legal action to partnering with those responsible. To suggest that we can't do anything would be myopic at best; there are countless real-world examples of the few working to accomplish positive things, and succeeding against all odds. I for one am for that kind of thinking and applaud anyone who is willing to do more than serve as an arm-chair general.

Speaking of which, Karl von Clausewitz called in his classic tome Vom Kriege called war, politics through another means. His writings are as apropos for dealing with Iraq (or in his day events like the Jena campaign) as they are dealing with individuals who pirate our wares and disseminate them online or off. This includes organizations like IBM and SAM who take a hard line stance publically against, say, The Masked Magician, but do little to prevent members from copying DVDs for one another at meetings. But that is for another thread I hope.

Figuratively speaking, we are engaged in a conflict where one side is seeking to protect its interests (IP) from being appropriated by another side (pirates) who feel entitled, for whatever reason, to our hard work. Ultimately, the things we do mirror many of the strategic decisions leaders of various groups have taken against each other for centuries.

If indeed politics is the art of the possible, I think that should be our first effort. To negotiate. To look for solutions. To dialogue. To understand, educate, and share with an eye to, for the sake of another term, win the "hearts and minds" of those who perpetrate these crimes. While at the same time finding ways to passively negate piracy though technology and creative packaging, et cetra (ala Mr. Goat and Frank).

However, where I differ from some of the people who've posted here is that I am willing to engage the other side directly where necessary; court cases (the armed conflict of this situation if you will) should in my estimation, be the last course of action. That said, things can escalate very quickly based on the decisions and actions (or inaction) taken by the other side, and I'll not hesitate to take that route. Of course it helps that I'm a crack shot, even if I do say so myself (thanks for your tax dollars in that respect).

Like in a real war, if the other side postures or blatantly becomes aggressive, there comes a point where you have to pull the trigger -- figuratively speaking in this case.

Ultimately, I'll do whatever I can legally to mitigate the damages our art sustains. But I don't feel it is absolutely warranted or necessarily the best solution to go the latter route. Some may think this is a waste of time. Well, I respectfully disagree. I have both the means and ability, so I for one will continue to do rather than talk. That means using every possible option at my disposal. And I am fortunate enough to have many, whereas many of the site owners are not. That is, as the young man posted in his forums, where I will continue to have the upper hand. And so far, it is working.

After turning my interest on another site, I was able to negotiate a win/win solution where some 18,000 members will be cut off from a forum that collectively (which is far more egregious than say a torrent site where individuals must search for what they want rather than having it served up to them) has worked together to pirate thousands of titles from Richard's books (yes, they scan them from front to back and post them as PDFs) to DVDs produced with gimmicks, wherein the latter was diagrammed and details for manufacturing have been provided. The site owner and I actually get along well, and in this case, he's not a college student who already knows everything, but rather a grown man who has similar interests to my own. We were able to agree on many things, and that resulted in us looking for a solution together, which I'm happy to report is moving forward. Two down.

The next site I am after belongs to another young man in college who I've been looking into for about two months. The beauty in this case is that I hadn't yet garnered his details as I was able to with the first site mentioned above. The good news is, that despite his disdain for me, the young man I mentioned provided me with all the details he had on the third site. That's right, like a crack dealer who's been caught and then chastised by the manufacturer for getting caught, he's rolled and gave up other bad guys. And good for him for doing so.

Whatever his motivation, I'm glad he's done it. It makes my job much easier and allows for me to focus my resources and efforts. I'd like to think he's had a change of heart and that this experience has given him time to reflect and grow. Who knows. One can hope.


Black's Magic

James Clark's mission statement

James Clark has made an excellent post on the topic of exposure websites and piracy over at the Genii Forum. If you are against these sort of sites then read it here and you should feel very encouraged.


UPDATE: Apparently the link doesn't work for everyone. Go to - into the FORUMS - into the section marked BUZZ - and the thread ONE EXPOSURE SITE FEELS THE PAIN. James' post is on Page 7.

Maybe we'll just arrange to get it on this blog too....

But, if you are a fan of you'll hear it all direct from James on their next podcast!

The final word on the exposure site

The owner of the exposure site (Mr Exo) tried to post a comment here on the blog. Well, it wasn't really a comment, more an ad for his site where he asked us to go to a certain thread in his forum where they would "enjoy having a civilized conversation."

On that thread he attribute quotes to the wrong people, corrects my spelling of 'realise' to 'realize' (he's based in Germany), and he agrees that what he's been doing is illegal, but justifies it like this:

"Illegally downloading magic does not make you any less of a magician, but I will agree, you are participating in something that is illegal. However, in the Ohio, USA, it is illegal to sleep in bed with your shoes on, so I guess that would make anyone who sleeps in bed with shoes a vigilante?"

When Sue-Anne states: "You are NOT the magic industry!" he misunderstands and defends himself as belonging to the magic industry, missing her point completely:

"I would like to correct you, I AM a magic publisher. I run two other websites, one which sells magic products, and one that develops magic. I have released 3 effects on DVD and sell 12. So technically I would like to classify myself as being part of the magic industry. I am sure you never been to the site, but I released every one of my tricks here FREE."

When James Clark is mentioned by Justin Robert Young is mentioned, he responds:

"He actually fueled me to expose magic more...He was successful in stopping 1 person, and the only reason he was successful was due to the fact that he wouldn't stop harassing me with phone calls and emails. If I wanted to, I would have been able to successfully take Mr. Clark to court and winning the case. I simply don't have $10,000 just laying around, he does. Magic pays well..."

Obviously magic doesn't pay well for Mr Exo, especially if he releases his tricks free.

His rebuttal to my comment: "By giving away DVDs that OTHER PEOPLE have spent time and money creating in order that they can sell them to buy FOOD for their families, you are doing EXACTLY THAT!" is irrelevent at best:

"Ahh, obviously you don't keep up with your magic news. Did you miss the part of Justin Miller being accused of stealing magic methods? Or maybe you missed out on the release of "Digital Dissolve" from Theory11 when they ripped off Steve Dusheck. People need to also not rely on selling magic for income. Just like in any other market, you need to expect a loss and risk it through a gamble."

(For the record, Theory 11 resolved the issue with Steve).

He continues to argue that people should be allowed to pirate DVDs because the cost of shipping is so expensive and some companies don't ship to certain countries:

"Have you ever purchased multiple effects? I know I have. They are overprices and range from 20-60 dollars (USD). Have you ever had to pay 20 bucks in shipping for a .43 cent DVD? Doubt it... Thats a lot of money for someone on a limited budget."

His response to being accused a thief:

"I do consider myself a thief and feel quite bad for it, still doesn't change anything."

Then he continues his "civilsed conversation" saying:

"If I called you a gaggly-toothed fagot because you wear that o-so queer jacket, or maybe that "thing" you call a wife, would that be fair? No, I would be labeling you without knowing you. I would appreciate if you got to know me first."

And he wonders why I don't want to get to know him?

"I bet your not even in this little bunch of publishers and you have the audacity to call me a jerk? I donate money to charity organizations, what do you do? Perform magic and sell stuff on a website?...."

So, I guess this means because he donates money to charity I should give him a free pass to do whatever he likes? Is that what he's trying to say?

Remember how he told us earlier that "If you would read into it our user base was 80% 3rd world countries," that seems to have changed:

"The majority of my members are very well renowned artists that have their identities hidden."

(Which is different to his comment in another thread from a few months ago: "I wish I had arguing professional magicians on my board... ")

And he tries a new argument to defend internet exposure:

"You going to a seminar or conference is the exact same thing as exposing something on the internet... If not clear me up on it."

Someone like to spell it out to him?

He then says this:

"I would almost guarentee that my site would have had the same success if it was purely presentation and had no exposure. (which is what we are sculpting it into). "

That's encouraging at least. Well, more encouraging than a comment he made on another thread about his site: "I don't think anyone here would be buying anyones' trick anytime soon if you know what I mean *wink*."

He also has an odd view of piracy and the music industry:

"If you would do your homework the "music agency" is counting on the piracy to boost their ratings."

In response to my statement: "Listen, if the creators of DVDs WANT to offer you a "try before you buy service" let THEM decide. " he again misses the point:

"Hazzah! You brought it up! No, they won't and don't. They are in the magic business for the money, and that is the true answer. If they earned no money they would be in the same predicament many of my members are in. Giving people "free" previews or examples allows them to decipher and figure out the tricks. Recently you will notice many many publishers not showing the full effect or limited its angles so you can barely see whats going on. They do this because they are trying to sell you an object...If you want to go after someone for truly exposing tricks go after the publishers, they sell to anyone! I actually scan and make sure magicians are getting my tricks."

Needless to say his members are thrilled with his clever responses and say things like:

  • "Well responded Exo! I back you 110% on it."
  • "Lol!! Yes!! Pwned!!! Xd"
  • "Your replies are well written and you definately thought about each one, Exo. I totally agree with you in every point."
  • "i've read it exo...u rox!!!"

And a direct response to Sue-Anne:

"=> you and f*** yourself, you got owned by the internet b*tch"

So much for the "civilised conversation".

Anyway, it's become very obvious that this site is yet another populated by teenagers and students who like to collect secrets, but don't want to spend any money doing it. They feel that DVDs and secrets should all be free, probably because they are supported by their parents and have limited expenses.

Keith Raygor on the Genii Forum summed it up nicely saying: "I think the kids will come around to the system quicker and more-so than the system will come around to the kids, regardless of how loudly they scream for more of what isn't theirs."

We can only hope he's right because, as we see here, trying to debate with them is as effective as trying to herd cats. 

The current state of magic

Following is a post from a magic exposure forum by one of it's members analysing the current state of magic. I thought it might give readers an insight into the next generation of magicians.

Not many of you may know me yet but most of you can call me Kevin. I've been into magic for anout 5 years or so if you count the days of those gimmick kits my mom gave me and a couple of sad card tricks i invented in elementry school. Anyways I think i know enough about magic to tell about is current state and how is evolving and blending into mainstream media. So grab a sandwich, don't get bored and read this dang thing.

As many of you know Street Magic is popularize by David Blaine, and boy did that ever got laymens back into enjoying magic. I was mystify by his peformances, while my mother and father was just clearly blown away. This was the first step taken back magic to the mainstream audiences, or as i like to call it. "Big Bang" of magic. While some may diagree with me not many can deny blaine's impact on laymens today.

The next big step as i see it is the internet which brought many newcomers to our art and at the same time brought an unimaginable amount of masked magicians or 7 year olds with webcams. Now while i think exposure is not an entirely bad thing, overexposure to the public causes our art to be less memorable and appreciative. I understand like music and painting a few bad apples won't hurt. But magic is like a puzzle for so many that curiosity won't let them stop trying to find out the secret and that is when the problem gets a bit weary.Yet the internet had brought magicinas closer as a community and made some artist that we never heard of superstars in the community.

The new generation of magic i see try so hard to make the craft serious. I know 1st hand because eventhouhg i have sudy the art before i could even attend school im still part of this generation.But for some reason eventhough the new generation booms on the internet they seem to lack performance drive. What i mean by that is i barely see any magicians peform on the street and i live in L.A. We canot present all our art in web 2.0 and i think the type of people we are attracting to magic aren't the social type.

So magic made is leaps and bounds. Yet magicians feel our art is still misunderstood, to underated, and people don't recgonize it as art. Well Get over it!!!! We made magic mainstream and those big steps we took to get here proves is art.
Music is art but some don't think so, exactly he same as magic. So stop saying just because people don't think magic is art doesn't mean it isn't don't take it so personally, and go show off that deck of cards of yours. 52 pieces of paper doesn't work the miracles you do.

How do we proceed from here?

Over the last six months the exposure of magic on the web and the illegal trade in file sharing has been growing as more and more consumers find the internet easier to access.

Many magicians argue that it's pointless to try to stop these exposure and file sharing sites so why bother trying to fight them.

Of course, they offer no solutions.

How do we, as magicians proceed from here?

1 - Producers of Magic DVDS.

As soon as you release a new magic DVD you can bet it will be on the web and available for easy download within 24 hours. (And pirated copies will be on sale in magic stores in certain countries, magicians will be burning copies for their friends to swap for other burned magic DVDs, and magic club members will be borrowing their club's library copy instead of buying it for themselves).

This means instead of getting a small return on an investment of several thousand dollars (most DVD creators get about $10-12 from the sale of every DVD and if they sell 1000 it's considered a big hit) they make a loss.


  1. Produce "no budget" home made DVDs and hope you'll sell enough to make a few hundred bucks.
  2. Stop producing magic DVDs altogether.
  3. Fight the pirates.

2 - Producers of Magic Tricks.

Same deal. Come up with a trick that uses no gimmick, and your manuscript will appear all over the internet as soon as you sell one.

Come up with a trick that uses a gimmick and an unscrupulous dealer will send a copy to a factory in China and flood the market with cheap copies of your trick and your potential sales will drop dramatically.

Others, who actually think this is the right thing to do, will buy your trick then post a video "tutorial" on the web of themselves explaining exactly how your trick works.


  1. Only sell to people you trust, or those who are willing to sign a binding legal agreement.
  2. Give away your tricks free to magic magazines (where they remain hidden forever).
  3. Stop producing magic tricks for sale.
  4. Fight the pirates.

3 - Performers of Magic.

As soon as you perform on stage someone will film you without your knowledge and it will appear on YouTube (or a similar site) and people will post explanations of your tricks in the comments section - or a 10 year old kid will edit your clip inserting explanations and helpful arrows pointing out exactly how you did it.

If you make an appearance on TV or post a promo video on the web, the same thing will happen.

The other side effect is that, as soon as your video appears on the web other performers will copy your style, your tricks and your presentations.


  1. Don't ever allow any of your performances to be filmed, (almost impossible if you entertain any groups bigger than 100) and don't ever go on TV or make a promo video.
  2. Stop performing magic.
  3. Fight the pirates.