Magic and the economy of secrets

So just how do all those magic secrets remain secrets?

The Economist explains why some traditional legalities don't apply to professional magicians in the Capitalism of Magic.

Yet, appropriately enough, just how magicians have protected their [intellectual property] is itself something of a mystery. The traditional view is that IP can be protected only by the long arm of the law. But magicians rarely rely on the law, as the very act of describing what they want protected would reveal their secrets. Strong IP laws are supposed to be essential to encouraging innovation, but magicians are extremely innovative, constantly coming up with new tricks. To traditional students of the economics of innovation, this state of affairs seems as improbable as successfully sawing in half the beautiful assistant and then putting her back together again.

Now, the mystery has been solved: Jacob Loshin of Yale Law School has written a fascinating paper, “Secrets Revealed: How Magicians Protect Intellectual Property Without Law”. This will appear next year (out of thin air, presumably) in a book called “Law and Magic”.

According to Mr Loshin, magicians labour in what has come to be known as IP’s “negative space”: creative endeavours to which traditional legal protections of ideas do not apply. Fashion and haute cuisine are among several industries that share this negative space, the study of which has become a hot area in economics.

Study shared negative space?


Hat tip: The Intangible Economy

Wikipedia: Intellectual rights to magic tricks