The Ethics of Magic

Welcome to the official website for the ethics of the art of magic. This site was put together by a team of magicians and researchers, with the help of different books, websites and message boards and with the input and approval from many magicians and even laymen in order to make whatever you find on here as correct, complete and up-to-date as possible, with as goal to inform magicians on how to be the most respected artists in the world.

Please respect our work and do not publish any of the text elsewhere. Link to this website instead. That is the only way to make sure that the ethics are and stay complete, correct and up-to-date.

Do not openly expose magic

There is no such thing as magic if the secrets would be out in the open. Selling magic or teaching it privately to other magicians and assistants is fine, as well as publicly exposing your own creations which use nothing but original principles and mechanics. You may not expose other people's effects without their permission. This includes but is not limited to making a private video tutorial of someone else's effect to send out as a contest prize.

Also, be careful performing anything your spectators might figure out by watching your video more than once (like when it involves misdirection). You could tweak the effect, have the camera move along with the spectator's eyes or add some additional cover, as long as the secrets stay safe and the video represents what spectators would be seeing in a live situation.

Do not steal material

You are free to perform anything you know with the exception of unpublished material from living magicians and creators or material involving active performance rights unless you have obtained permission to do so. When the magician or creator in question has passed away and there are no active performance rights in play, you can freely perform and teach the effect as long as you credit the creator.

Give credits where credits are due

Credits need to be given in products, in lectures and to video performances for magicians. It also means that you cannot blatantly take and rename effects and routines. In case the original name involves a specific prop and you happen to use something else in your performance, you can change the name so that it would suit your take. In case the original version differs from yours from a mechanical point of view, you can rename it as well, but you will still need to give credits to the original creator if you did base it on this person's idea.

Credits usually include the creators of the trick, routine and included techniques. Techniques without any known creator could be skipped. In case it is a fully independent creation, you are allowed to say just that, although doing some research is much more appreciated. If research has been done and it still appears to be an original creation, there is nothing wrong by giving credits to yourself. However, if an earlier publication has been overlooked, a correction of some sort needs to be made.

Make everything you do your own

There is no need to try to copy other magicians or their acts, which, if obvious, can even be seen as copyright infringement. Be yourself and tweak effects to make them suit your own style and ways of handling props instead of that of anyone else.

Put time and effort into anything you perform

Be sure to treat every effect with respect and to put in the time you need to get it down and perform it well. Spectators are not supposed to see what is going on behind the scenes.

Popularity and money should not be priorities

Being a magician, or any other kind of artist for that matter, is about being dedicated to the art. If popularity or money is your priority and the art only comes second, it means you are not dedicated to the art and are willing to do anything unethical in order to get famous or to become rich. It is okay to make money or to gain fame with the art, as long as it happens in an ethical way.

Use magic terms correctly

Whenever you use magic terms, use them by their actual definitions. It does not come down to personal takes on the definitions because then it would not make sense to use the terms in the first place.

Do not lie outside of performances

It is okay to lie and manipulate during your performances, but lying outside of performances, especially to other magicians and usually for the sake of making yourself seem better than you actually are, is not appreciated.

Do not perform for entirely fake audiences

Do not use entirely fake audiences or real audiences experiencing something completely different than what is shown, for instance to perform effects not possible in real life or real tricks in impossible situations. It gives viewers a false impression on the art and can lead to them expecting too much of working (offline) magicians for that these cannot possibly live up to it.

There is no pride in figuring out effects, only in performing them

Do not be openly proud if you have figured out the secret to an effect, only be proud if you are able to perform it well by yourself. Especially when watching a video, it might not be a challenge to figure out something secret due to the ability to replay it countless amount of times and ignoring any form of misdirection. Blatantly saying you have figured out how a performer did a trick is not respectful in any way.

Do not be a know-it-all

Use your knowledge and experience to help whoever needs it, but do not use it as an argument that you are always correct. The most experienced magicians may be the easiest to fool and the fastest to overlook anything.

Treat products with respect

Re-selling, trading or giving away products means that you cannot make copies of them, with the exception of products that are in the public domain. Sharing digital products is seen as unethical by default because there is no evidence that the products have in fact been deleted from your own systems. In case you want to have or make multiple copies of a product to share with others, you will either have to purchase the item as many times as the amount of copies you will end up with or obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It is okay to make copies for personal use, like printing out an e-book for easier reading or turning a physical book it into an e-book to read on your smartphone or tablet.