Another interesting piece on the possibility (or not) that copyright law can protect magicians' intellectual property.
Jenny Small, The Illusion of Copyright Infringement Protection, 12 Chi-Kent J. Intell. Prop. 217 (Summer 2013). Here are the first few paragraphs of the article.
The schism between knowing and seeing may be magic's allure, but when the magician sees a fellow entertainer perform his signature trick, he wants to know that the law affords him protection. Law, like magic, revolves around expectations. Magic defies one's expectations, but law secures them. Yet, in the realm of copyright law, magicians' expectations for protection are unclear.
As a teenager, Raymond Joseph Teller, of Penn & Teller, envisioned an illusion never before seen. He perfected the trick, and it became known as his signature "Shadows." In the trick, a vase with a rose rests upon a stool and its shadow projects onto a wall. Teller, the "murderer," approaches the shadow $=P218 with a knife, and, as he cuts the petals of the shadow, the real rose petals fall. In 1983, after performing the trick for about seven years, Teller submitted it for copyright registration, using a cartoon-like diagram with a description of the setting, characters, and action. In copyrighting his illusion, he attempted to protect his labor without revealing the secret behind the act.
Until 2012, Teller was the only person to have performed this trick. In that year, however, the video "A Rose & Her Shadow" appeared on YouTube. In the video, Gerard Dogge (alias Bakardy of Los Dos de Amberes) used a knife to cut a projected rose's shadow. Dogge allegedly figured out the secret behind Teller's trick and either devised another way to create the illusion or used video editing to make an audience believe that he could perform the trick. Dogge concluded the video with an offer to sell the trick's secret for 2,450 Euros ($ 3,050). After a failed attempt to negotiate with Dogge, Teller sued him for copyright infringement.
Teller's case represents two emerging legal complexities--the struggle to protect the intellectual property of untraditional artistic creations, like magic and the growing difficulty of preventing artistic replication. This case includes many interesting facets such as Dogge's defamation countersuit in Belgium, issues related to moral and derivative rights, a failed negotiation, and a defendant who all but disappeared. The primary focus of this paper, however, is Teller's copyright infringement claim. Part I addresses the current law surrounding copyright protection of magic and the performance arts. Next, Part II lays out the facts of Teller's case. Finally, Part III discusses Teller's likelihood of success considering the case precedent he must overcome.
Do the laws of economics apply in the magical world of Harry Potter? Even though J.K Rowling placed her characters in a world of magic, wizards remain subject to the implications of scarcity. As a result, the series is abundant with examples of basic economic principles. Given the popularity of the series, its use in the classroom is likely to inspire students to adopt the economic way of thinking for life. We demonstrate the pedagogical potential of the series by providing illustrations of trade-offs and opportunity costs, marginal thinking, the power of incentives, and the benefits of trade and commerce.
Are economists just wild about Harry? Maybe if his adventures demonstrate the laws of the dismal science. Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
In L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" Dorothy travels to the Emerald City seeking the mysterious Wizard himself. She finds a beautiful, prosperous, orderly city where everyone seems happy. The forbidding Wizard sends her on a quest to eliminate the Wicked Witch of the West; when Dorothy returns, the Wizard is revealed as nothing more than a “humbug.” How should we judge the Wizard? He has been a benign and successful ruler in the Emerald City, and yet he is a fake and a con artist who knowingly made false promises to Dorothy. Baum challenges his readers to think through the Wizard's case and judge for themselves.
David Silverman, President of American Atheists, says the group will soon premiere an "all atheists" channel, which should be available via Roku, the streaming player, fairly soon. Mr. Silverman says the group will obtain content from various sources, including AA (that's American Atheists, not Alcoholics Anonymous) conventions, and third parties. He says the channel will be called (no surprise) Atheist TV. Well, it should be listed first, or at least right up there, on the list of options on the channel finder. More about Roku here. I have one, and like it a lot, except for the remote, which is tiny, and easy to misplace. And my cat tends to lie on top of it at inopportune moments, or maybe he thinks I watch too many 60s sitcoms. "Stop staring at the stoopid box! My toona! Get my toona nooow!!!!".
Now, I've often played with the idea of creating hypos for a question on one of my exams that would include a channel like Atheist TV, and then letting fly with all sorts of fact patterns and issues. I didn't think it would happen (like magic) in real life. As Mark Twain famously said about the weather (in New England) in another context (completely), "Just wait a minute."
From The Hollywood Reporter, news that the popular superhero comic Chew is headed for the big screen as an animated feature. Steven Yeun will voice the "cibopath," the detective with psychic powers Tony Chu, and Felicia Day is voicing his significant other, Amelia Mintz. Check out more about the comic here at Chew: The Official Website.
Oh, too good to pass up. Although it's probably not a good idea to pass up zombies, or pass by zombies, if you see them on a road, or walking toward you, or anywhere in your vicinity. See Dawn of the Dead (1978), Night of the Zombies (1981), Humans Versus Zombies (2011), Pro Wrestlers Vs Zombies (2014)....you get the idea. Probably best to avoid zombies all together, though if you are a human rights lawyer, it might be a way to build your practice.
William Baude, University of Chicago Law School, has published Zombie Federalism. See the abstract below.
The most natural question to ask about zombies and constitutional law is whether zombies are persons within the meaning of the Constitution. But that question turns out to be remarkably difficult. The word "person" appears repeatedly throughout the Constitution, but without any clues about whether it extends to zombies.
What’s the best constitutional solution to this problem? Zombie Federalism. The Constitution does not resolve the question of zombie personhood, so we should understand it to leave that question to state law.
Download the paper (very short) from SSRN at the link.
Of interest: a series of articles on war magic and warrior religion in the journal Social Analysis (vol. 58, Spring 2014), in an issue called War Magic and Warrior Religion: Sorcery, Cognition, and Embodiment. Here's the list.
Farrer, D. S., Cross-Cultural Articulations of War Magic and Warrior Religion, 58 Social Analysis 1 (Spring 2014).
Chan, Margaret, Tangki War Magic: The Virtuality of Spirit Warfare and the Actuality of Peace, at p. 25.
de Grace, Jean-Marc, Javanese Kanuragan Ritual Initiation: A Means to Socialize by Acquiring Invulnerability, Authority, and Spiritual Improvement, at p. 47.
Neidel, J. David, Discourse of Decline: Local Perspectives on Magic in Highland Jambi, Indonesia, at p. 67.
Roberts, Michael, Encompassing Empowerment in Ritual, War, and Assassination: Tantric Principles in Tamil Tiger Instrumentalities, at p. 88.
Jokić, Željko, Shamanic Battleground: Magic, Sorcery, and Warrior Shamanism in Venezuela, at 107.
Farrar, D. S. and James D. Sellmann, Chanta of Re-enchantment: Chamorro Spiritual Resistance to Colonial Domination, at p. 127.
Sinclair, Iain, War Magic and Just WAr in Indian Tantric Buddhism, at p. 149.