Free Magic Summer Reading from Conjuring Arts Center!

Inside Magic Library Cover Page for Happy Hollisters and the Perfect FarosWe love to read magic books and love to read free magic books even more.

There are two types of  free magic books: 1) those in the public domain; and, 2) those that are not in the public domain but are being illegally copied and distributed by some evil person or persons.

We shy away from illegal anything and especially illegally copied books.  Perhaps it is our day job as an Intellectual Property attorney that has biased us against counterfeit and knock-offs.

Maybe if we were not so aware of how authors and inventors dedicate so much of their lives to creating the property others hope to steal, we would be all for the theft.  Maybe not, though.  It still seems wrong.

But what are you going to do, the cynics ask.  Everyone steals and books cost too much and they are only stealing a single, virtual copy and they pay for almost every book other than this one and they were raised by Honey Badgers so they don’t really care.

We know readers of Inside Magic are not like Honey Badgers.

Our readers do care about doing right and avoiding doing wrong.  Our readers are good people.

That’s why the news from The Conjuring Arts Research Center is so exciting to us.

The Conjuring Arts  folks are launching their perfectly timed summer reading program today.

At Conjuring Arts we believe that some of the greatest secrets of magic can only be discovered by reading great books. Every week until the end of the summer we will be giving away a FREE! PDF download of a great magic book. The book will be available for download for absolutely free from the beginning until the end of the week at which time a different free book will be given in its place. Please enjoy reading these classics of magic and spread the word about our FREE Summer Reading Program with your friends!

We promise that if you download each book each week you will have the beginnings of a Great magic library.

We just downloaded their fully bookmarked edition of The Expert at the Card Table.  It looks great and even has line and chapter numbers like you would find in a bible for those who treat the book like the bible of card magic that it is.
Continue reading Free Magic Summer Reading from Conjuring Arts Center!

Magic Patents Don’t Help: Learn from Horace Goldin

Inside Magic Image of Saturday Evening Post Advertisement from Camel CigarettesWe uploaded into the Inside Magic Library, the 1938 decision by the federal district trial court in the Southern District of New York dismissing Horace Goldin’s lawsuit against R.J. Reynold’s Tobacco for an injunction blocking their alleged exposure of Goldin’s trade secret for Sawing a Woman in Half.  You can see the decision here.

The Court’s decision was correct — Goldin was wrong and apparently didn’t even appear for the hearing.

The Court buys R.J. Reynold’s defense that it did not take Goldin’s secret.  The tobacco folks claimed they got their version of the secret by reading a book written by Inside Magic Favorite Author Walter B. Gibson.

We are publishing the decision to demonstrate an unfortunately frequent mistake of magicians.   A patent only keeps others from making the exact same illusion — it cannot protect the secret or even the idea behind the secret.

Mr. Goldin also failed to understand what is meant by “Trade Secret.”  This is still a common mistake made by magicians.   True, one can protect trade secrets under US intellectual property law but a trade secret must be secret first and foremost.

The method of performing a magic trick is not a trade secret if it is known by others — even if it is known only by magicians.  It may be a secret of the trade but that does not make it a trade secret.

A magician can protect a trade secret only if it is truly secret, he or she has taken the steps to protect the secret, and the person being sued had some agreement or contract with the magician to keep the secret.  Unless there was an agreement between the parties or there was some sort of special relationship between the parties where a court could conclude all agreed the secret was to be kept, there is no basis for a lawsuit.

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T. Nelson Downs’ Modern Coin Manipulation – Magic Work in Progress

Inside Magic Image of First Illustration from T. Nelson Downs' Modern Coin Manipulation - Now Available at Inside MagicSeveral months ago, we published an article about T. Nelson Downs' adopted hometown celebrating his part in their history. Researching the story got us thinking and researching and reading.

That's a lot for a bear with little brains, as AA Milne noted. So it took us a lot longer than we expected to get where we are now. And where exactly are we?

We have read, re-read and corrected our distillation of the several copies of Mr. Downs' Modern Coin Manipulation floating about the public domain realm of the interwebs. None of the publicly available and public domain versions of the book were ready for publication. There were pages missing, headings applied incorrectly and very poor scanning performed. Our various attempts to run optical character recognition scans met with failure due to one or more of these flaws.

Our solution was to purchase some pretty sophisticated OCR, image and books assembly software. We were able to stitch together images from different scanned versions into one document ready for OCR and assembly. Still, we wanted to do more. Mr. Downs' book has historical references throughout that need to be chased. For instance, he begins the book with a defense of his position that he was the true inventor of the Back Palm.

He provides the place and time for his first public use of this essential sleight and suggests that those who claim to have invented the move are wrong or disingenuous. His use of the sleight was to hide and produce coins as part of his Miser's Dream routine. But he notes that other magicians use the same move for card effects.

Speaking of The Miser's Dream, Mr. Downs dedicates substantial portion of the book to teaching this classic act. His instruction is outstanding and the images are very helpful but if one hopes to duplicate his success with the act based on a quick reading and memorization of the script, that one will be frustrated and sad.

The moves taught are knuckle-busters plus. Perhaps part of his motive in writing this book was to dissuade would-be imitators from starting. If you are just starting in Magic or have worked as a professional for decades, this book will have something for you. You may not yet have the skills to perform everything but you will find something to fit your routine with a little practice.

Robert Browning was clearly speaking of magicians when he wrote, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp / Or what's a heaven for?"

We will put T. Nelson Downs' Modern Coin Manipulation in the Inside Magic Library for those who would like a copy. The version will be revised periodically to include annotations and cross-references. Let us know if you find any problems with this or later editions. Enjoy!