My friend Jay Dougherty, of Loyola (Los Angeles) Law School, published this post on the Teller copyright infringement decision at the Loyola, Los Angeles, Law School Faculty Law Blog, Summary Judgments. Here's the link.
The U. S. District Court in Nevada has spoken (not from behind the curtain, either). Judge James Mahan stated in a decision handed down March 21 that magician Gerard Dogge had infringed on magician Teller's copyright in the "Shadows" performance. Remember that case? Yes, the wheels of justice do grind exceedingly slowly (and expensively) but they get around to business eventually. Judge Mahan found that, contrary to the defendant's assertions, the Copyright Act protects dramatic performances as well as pantomines. What's going to the jury? The damages claim: a jury will decide whether Mr. Dogge's infringement was willful or not--willful infringement is incredibly more painful, in terms of dollars, to the defendant. Also going to the jury is Teller's unfair competition claim.
The Hollywood Reporter article mentions the Robert Rice copyright litigation against Fox; I discuss a little about magicians and IP law to protect against infringement in earlier posts here and here.
In early 2012, a Dutch magician did something unthinkable within the secretive and tight-knit magic community: he posted a YouTube video of himself performing a fellow magician’s illusion, and offered to reveal the secret to his viewers for a $3,050 fee. The illusion, however, was not just any old trick; it was the signature move of Raymond Teller, one half of the famous magic duo “Penn & Teller.” In April 2012, Teller took the unusual step of filing a lawsuit in federal court, alleging copyright infringement and unfair competition, to protect the secret behind his illusion. It is not clear, however, that magic is a copyright-protectable category of work. Neither the United States 1976 Copyright Act nor the United States’ Copyright Office’s working compendium addresses magic. No federal court has held magic protectable since the Copyright Act was amended in 1976. Still, magic meets the constitutional and statutory requirements for copyrightprotectable work. The Teller court should hold that magic illusions are eligible for copyright protection, regardless of whether it finds there was infringement in this particular case.
Ms. Brancolini wrote the piece under the supervision of F. Jay Dougherty, who contributed to Law and Magic (Carolina Academic Press, 2010).
Neil Patrick Harris, actor and magician. Here, a clip from CNN's New Day. Mr. Harris discusses "Nothing To Hide," a magic show he directs, which stars two card magicians. Lawyer Chris Cuomo chimes in that he likes magic because of its requirement that you "suspend disbelief." Mr. Harris also talks about "Sleep No More," the New York hotel/happening inspired by Macbeth (also law-and-magical).
Renowned magician and actor John Calvert has passed away. He was 102. Mr. Calvert was famous for his sawing-the-lady-in-half trick, using an audience member as the sawee, and for starring in the Falcon movies as Michael Watling ("The Falcon"). He also made several other films, and appeared in Are These Our Parents? and Bombadier in roles as a magician. Here's more from the Los Angeles Times.
The History Channel has (greenlighted? greenlit?) given the go-ahead to a four hour biopic about Harry Houdini and his wife Bess, starring Adrian Brody and Kristin Connolly. More here from the Hollywood Reporter.