I published an article entitled Getting the Gigs in October of 2010. The article was sent in by our dear friend, and “head mother” of the World Magic Seminar Teen Weekend, Chris Koch. Shortly after it was published, I got a somewhat obscure email from Jeff asking me to take the article offline while we investigated a claim of plagiarism.
I’m pleased to say that the article is back online along with the following full story from both authors.
On a late summer day I received a phone call from one of my Chicago magic friends. He exclaimed, “Have you seen the article by Chris Koch in “The Secret Arts Journal?” “No,” I said. He continued, “Oh my God, it’s your notes word for word. I thought I had heard this stuff before, I even got your notes off my shelf, and there it was page for page your lecture.” All I could say at that moment was, “You’re kidding!”
I hung up stunned, and then went to see for myself at “The Secret Arts Journal” website. My friend was right–there it was in black and white my work laid out before me with someone else’s name, with not one mentioned of credit to me! How could this be?
I met Chris and her son when they attended my lecture in Chicago. I instantly had a feeling of liking them both. Her son was the kind of kid that you wanted to help, and see succeed. He also seemed like the kind of kid that got the basic ethics of magic.
I was even more disappointed when I realized he was a student of Jeff McBride’s. We have all seen Jeff’s act copied move for move, mask for mask. Anyone that has ever seen him lecture knows that he drives home the point of finding your own creativity, and you give credit when it’s needed to be given. How could have Chris missed this lesson?
My work had never been stolen before. I then felt maybe I should take this as a compliment. If someone felt my material was good enough to copy, maybe this was just a sign that I had made it! Still putting together “Getting A Gig Is A Full Time Job” was my work, my years of trial and error in the marketing of my magical services and self. I wanted the byline!
Then after all of this lamenting over feelings of hurt and disappointed it hit me! I was at fault, too! In my lecture I make the comment that “you can use ANY of my material, word for word, use my contracts, postcard, brochures, fliers, press releases ANYWAY you like. Drop in your logo and contact information, all the work has been done for you.” Chris took the comment of using ANY of my material literally. Even though I don’t say go and write your own lecture, she did use my material anyway she chose. I had to bear some of the responsibility. I could no longer be hurt and disappointed for what Chris had done–my job was now to learn from the lesson, and be accountable.
I made a phone call to Jeff and explained my side of the story, and confessed my own revelation to him. I also wanted to have his support in my thinking that even though I knew what I said, it was still not good ethics to copy work without credit. He understood and supported my thinking, but agreed there were lessons to be learned by both parties.
When I phoned Chris, she was apologetic from the moment she answered the phone. She wanted to know how she could make this up to me; how could she give me credit? I explained I knew what happened and that I had to hold myself accountable, too. That I was going to have to be clearer in my comment of “use my material ANYWAY you like.” Chris also had a conversation with Eugene Burger and he reinforced what she already understood about copying another’s stagecraft, or magic effect without credit or permission, held true for the written word as well.
Chris and I were lucky enough to turn a negative into a positive and to work through this as responsible individuals. I know many other copying of work stories that have not turned out this well. There were many things working for us in this situation and not against us. I was not out to get Chris, and I know she was not out to get me. We were both willing to look at ourselves and find the role that each of us played in the situation. We were both willing to listen and learn from the other and, most of all, we were both willing to admit our individual mistakes.
Learn more about Jania or to buy her notes, visit www.magicbyjania.com.
Okay, so maybe things you hear you should not automatically assume. Or maybe if you are in a new learning environment, you should do more investigating before you leap into doing anything. I did just that . . . I took a big leap and made a huge mistake. Here is my side of the story . . .
About a year ago, I attended a lecture by Jania Taylor. Her lecture was quite amazing and I was inspired by her. I am not a magician myself, but I am the mother of magician and many of the points of her lecture could be incorporated to help other magicians get gigs. To my delight, she was selling her lecture package. Jania went through all the items in her package and while doing so, she said, “Feel free to use this any way you want to.” I was so impressed with what she had lectured about and knew that I wouldn’t retain everything she had discussed, I decided to purchase her lecture package.
A few months after Jania’s lecture, I was asked to speak to a parents group. I wasn’t sure what I was going to speak about. I remembered the lecture Jania gave about Getting the Gigs and recalled that I had purchased her lecture package. I sat down and jotted down some notes. Then I looked at Jania’s information and saw that she had some wonderful points that I could use and I remember that she said to “use them any way you want to.” So, I used her printed information in my notes of the lecture. I spoke to the parents, but really didn’t use my notes to lecture. I just used them as a reference and the parents joined in on a general discussion on things that they have done to help their children get the gigs. Eugene Burger asked me for a copy of my notes for himself and Jeff McBride. I happily handed them to him. A few weeks later, Jeff asked if it would be okay to publish my notes in The Secret Art Journal. Of course, I was delighted and said yes, no problem. However, there was a problem . . .
Jania Taylor read my article and was appalled. She saw that I had used quite a bit of her information in my article. I didn’t understand why she was upset. Afterall, she said during her lecture that if we bought her lecture package, we could “use this any way you want to.” Big mistake! She meant that anyone who wanted to buy the package could use her handouts any way that we wanted to-NOT her lecture notes.
This was a learning experience on both of our parts. I learned that you have to find out exactly what the person means when they say use it any way you want and not to copy someone else’s material. Jania learned to be more specific when she says, “feel free to use this any way you want to.”
I totally understand now that Jania was very upset with me and I didn’t understand why. I know now and have learned from my mistake. Jania has learned from hers as well. Jania and I talked and decided to take a negative experience and turn it into a positive experience for both of us. We have decided to collaborate an article about our experience and hopefully others will learn by our mistakes.