Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Silence and Shadows

If you missed this story...Teller (the silent, shorter half of Penn & Teller) is suing a Dutch magician for copyright infringement. The famed magician alleges that the performer, Gerard Bakardy (real name Gerard Dogge), is selling an illusion which he calls The Rose & Her Shadow, which is essentially Teller's illusion, called Shadows. Teller's illusion has been copyrighted since 1983. Mr. Bakardy posted a video of his illusion on YouTube and offered to sell instructions on how to perform it for $3050. Teller contacted YouTube and asked the company to take down the video; YouTube complied.

A number of IP lawyers have weighed in on the likelihood that Teller can prevail in his suit. Read a post from Ars Technica here (includes link to the Shadows illusion), and the Laboratorium here. The consensus seems to be that he has an uphill battle.

Check out an excellent article about using copyright to protect magic tricks and illusions by F. Jay Dougherty, Now You Own It, Now You Don’t: Copyright and Related Rights in Magic Productions and Performances, in Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays 101 (C. A. Corcos, ed., Carolina Academic Press, 2010). Yes, yes, I know...shameless self promotion (although not on Jay's part. Just mine).

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