The Buck Twins Just Went Public Domain

Well I'll be a card monkey's uncle, Dan & Dave just announced that all of their published works are now within the public domain:

Screenshot of the Buck Twins' latest Instagram post announcing their material is now public domain.

Today, April 29th, 2024, we dedicate our entire body of original work in sleight of hand, magic, and cardistry to the public domain under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. By doing so, we relinquish our copyright and claim to originality, making our works freely available worldwide. The CC0 license allows anyone to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon our material in any medium or format, without conditions—even for commercial purposes. We hope this act of opening our creations to the world will ignite creativity and innovation in others, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in our art.
- @bucktwins on IG

This is a pretty bold, and in my opinion awesome, move from their side. I'm very familiar with licensing as I deal with them in my normal day-to-day, and their short and concise explanation is spot-on.

What does this declaration cover?

While this bit here is fairly self explanatory, clarity is useful:

our entire body of original work in sleight of hand, magic, and cardistry

In essence, any of their printed or filmed original works are now public domain, as long as they relate to sleight of hand, magic, and cardistry. It's key to emphasize "original works" in this statement as they own a publishing company, Dan and Dave Industries, Inc., and without that statement it would also mean they'd give up rights to any other publications they've helped publish, which is not their intent.

Dan and Dave have a handful of booklets, books, and videos that count as their original work, however, not all of it actually becomes public domain with this statement. Essentially, what they're saying is that they're giving up their rights to their original works -- but in the case when another publisher printed a book, or released a trick, that publisher also maintains copyright of the material.

With books, there's an easy indicator if there's another owner as their name is on the Written By line, or the book has a separate publisher. And what makes it a little tricky here is that even if the author is someone else, the actual copyright ownership depends on a few factors (which I'll omit here for brevity).

Here's a list of works -- both printed and video -- of Dan & Dave that I've been able to piece together. This list is not complete, and doesn't include individual contributions to magazines (like Genii or MAGIC); I've included a few individual tricks, but definitely not all.

  • Artifice, Ruse, and Subterfuge in the Hands
  • Card Men
    • This was written by Ricky Smith, and also includes contributions by others.
  • City of the Angles
    • While there is some text in the book, the majority of it is photographs by Brad Fulton.
  • If An Octopus Could Palm
  • Nursery Rhymes, Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Organic
  • Pandora
  • Portal
  • Sleightly Magical
  • Splay
  • The Trilogy (Tricks, Flourishes, Everythingelse, Andthensome)
    • Each video volume contains a slew of tricks and whatnot, originally released by Art of Play / The Buck Twins.
  • Twinsplit Remix
  • Twothousandandten
  • Uzumaki

Items in bold are ones that look to be fully covered by this declaration. In the case of books though, it's important to remember that if the contribution in the book is from another magician or cardist, it's not covered.

The items that aren't in bold may not, or may!, be covered. These are either books with a different author (but Dan & Dave's original work), or they're trick videos that were published on a third-party platform, like Vanishing Inc. In the case of the latter, I'm not sure what those magic vendors' claim is, but it's likely similar to a book publisher in that they own the rights... unless there was some type of contract agreement.

Also, Art of Play and The Buck Twins released things in the past that they no longer have available, but other platforms do. Resellers don't usually have claims to the content, so it would fall back to Dan & Dave. One of those "check your sources" things. So some of the non-bold items above really may be public domain now -- which is actually why I stopped adding in the individual tricks I found =P

Ultimately, given that the Buck Twins have released so much content over the years, it would be a whole lot easier if they made it clear what's now public domain and what isn't because for those who aren't "in the know", well, this declaration may have just created a lot of legal problems...

What's next?

I am extremely excited about this. If you've been reading the blog, you'll know that I recently started teaching card magic tutorials on YouTube. I use the plural here when I've only posted one to-date, but there will be a lot more soon.

Well, with Dan & Dave's material now in the public domain under CC0, this means that I can use the explanations of their tricks in my videos too! In fact, anyone can!

I've already pulled out my copy of If an Octopus Could Palm, Nursery Rhymes (Volume 2), and City of the Angles to get some ideas, and loaded up the handful of video tutorials I've purchased over the years. The only caveat is, their material hasn't ever really been the easiest to pull off, so other than "ideas", I don't know if I'll be able to actually help teach any of their tricks. But, we'll see!

From their side though, it would be helpful if they did in fact put out a reference list for what's public and what's not. It would be respectful for others who own the copyright to "a thing" that Dan and Dave's name's on too.

Oh, oh, I forgot to mention... just because this is all public domain doesn't mean it's now free. While it would be awesome for them to give away their books (heck, even a PDF), there is nothing about that in CC0 -- they're still completely able to charge cash-money for their books and tricks.

So yeah. What an awesome move Dan & Dave. Thank you so much for this, I hope it pays dividends and the magic community (... and cardistry too) become even more enriched!

I used DALL-E to create the header image for this post. I asked it to draw a blue book with a red octopus on the cover and have the book shattering a steel chain. I have to say, I didn't expect the image it came up with, but I really like it =]

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