Teller, half of Penn & Teller is suing a magician for copyright infringement. According to numerous reports, Teller is suing a Dutch Magician named Gerard Dogge. The suit alleges that Dogge is infringing on Teller’s copyrighted trick known as “Shadows”. The trick uses a rose projected onto a screen with a spotlight. The magician cuts the shadow which in turn cuts that actual rose.
Teller had attempted to prevent Dogge, whose stage name is Gerard Barkardy, from releasing the methods of the illusion. Dogge has performed the trick on YouTube and has threatened to make the secrets of the trick public. According to Teller, his attempts to settle the matter were unsuccessful. Reportedly, Teller offered to pay Dogge not to reveal the secret of the trick, however Dogge wanted more money.
Illusion can be protected by copyright law. This can be done by fixing the trick “in a tangible medium of expression from which the work can be performed”. Such as a recording of the trick or a written explanation of the trick. This is referred to as “Pantomime” in copyright law. According to the complaint, Teller states that he has performed the trick thousands of times and that the trick is considered one of his most iconic illusions.
Lawsuits between magicians have occurred before. David Copperfield sued magician and author Hebert Becker in order to prevent Becker from revealing secrets of his illusions. Copperfield was unsuccessful in preventing the publishing of the book; however, when the book did hit the shelves it did not contain explanations of any of Copperfield’s tricks.
For more information on the lawsuit see Teller v. Dogge, U.S. District Court, District of Nevada, No. 12-00591.