Teller Sues Over "Stolen" Magic Trick

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Andy Chalk:

The big, obvious question is whether or not it's possible to copyright a magic trick. The most obvious answer is no; magicians have been performing each other's tricks for years, after all, and I've never heard of anyone needing a license to stuff a woman into a box and then saw her in half.

Sawing a woman in half would be public domain by this time, as it dates back well over a century. Yes, you don't see people suing over that sort of thing. You also don't see people suing simply for covering an old folk song.

I'm not sure where this is the "obvious answer."

hurricanejbb:
You do NOT rip off Penn & Teller. That is like the biggest dick move in magic. I hope Bakardy's career suffers because of his theft.

The guys who in part made their notoriety by spoiling other people's tricks? Yeah, what a dick move.

Yan007:
Newsflash: Magicians sell tricks all the time.

In circumstances dissimilar to this one.

I don't know. Makes that newsflash seem kinda...Silly.

Yeah, like Penn said in the video, I can see a couple of different ways this could work. I doubt he is suing on the basis of the trick being "stolen." However, I think he could theoretically fight this a choreographed piece like the story said. An equivalent idea would be selling blue paint and homemade percussion instruments to do ripoffs of the Blue Man Group.

It's just profiteering. Teller is one of the purist magicians in the business, and that's his legacy to the profession that he loves. You can't walk on that. Imitation is one thing, but selling off someone's secrets for $3k a box? That's the lowest of low.

ShockValue:

Evilsanta:
Woah, That is one hell of a trick.

I can understand why he wantts to keep it a secret.

Also copying someone elses trick sound like douchebag behavior.

Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.

....Or candy.

I'd be siding with the dude if he didn't go and try to sell the illusion to the open market. I love Penn and Teller, but they do have a douchey streak in them. The headline hinted that might have been the case this time, but this dude is certainly the bigger douche.

I absolutely NEVER want to know how it's done. That illusion is magical.

DiamanteGeeza:
Any theories on how it's done?

Isn't it obvious? Clearly, it's the workings of dark, satanic magic.

ShockValue:

Evilsanta:
Woah, That is one hell of a trick.

I can understand why he wantts to keep it a secret.

Also copying someone elses trick sound like douchebag behavior.

Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.

Haha thank you, that made my day! I always try to slip that quote in somewhere.

I saw Teller do this when i saw them at the Rio in Vegas...such a fantastic show..and the shadows illusion wasnt even the most mindblowing one!

soren7550:

DiamanteGeeza:
Any theories on how it's done?

Isn't it obvious? Clearly, it's the workings of dark, satanic magic.

Teller sold his ability to speak for that trick

i'm loving this IP violation explosion that seems to flooding the system lately. with enough saturation some gears might even rotate.

gyroscopeboy:

soren7550:

DiamanteGeeza:
Any theories on how it's done?

Isn't it obvious? Clearly, it's the workings of dark, satanic magic.

Teller sold his ability to speak for that trick

Actually, he sold his ability to speak for fame. You don't WANT to know what he sold for this trick.

Nobody knows how it's done, and no-one will figure it out, but that doesn't matter

... because we'll litigate if anyone does! Christ, talk about asking for trouble.

many tricks are done by multiable magians but as this was his signature trick and the other guy was selling it I think hes in his rights to sue

Lol at copyrighting magic tricks. This stance honestly blows my mind. My guess is that the same people who would do so would also be the same to argue against used games.

BoredRolePlayer:
How would the court proceedings go

Teller:"..."

That was hilarious! I've seen their show,l (got pics and autographs). Teller does speak when offstage. As a sidenote, as a magician myself I see this as an issue about more than the methodology. Any trick can be duplicated, it's been done throughout history (sawing a woman in half and bullet catch come to mind). I don't see the.method being the issue so much as the act in which that method is used. To better explain, you can ave scenes involving a crashing chandelier and that wont get you into legal trouble but copying the entire script to "Tihe Phantom of the Opera" would. Also, the person.who blatantly copied is not a true magician, magic is an artform based around taking an idea and turning it into a unique sjow, or better, an experience. Anyone can do the method, it's taking that method and making it believable, making it interesting, making it matter, and making the audience FEEL something...that is the art. For someone to copy that act and then sell it without "making it his own" is wrong. Though that raises the issue of "how much change will make it yours". This all my opinion @ 2 in the morning...typing on a stubborn phone (please forgive the typos). Anyway,, some may argue that one should ask permission to use a method (for respect)but, legally, methods are tough to protect, especially bc the same effect can be duplicated with a different effect/method.

Side note for the curious, my shows range from family friendly interactive experiences to horror filled nightmares. It just depends on which is more suitable and appropriate for the audience. I'm based in central FL and will notify those who are interested on upcoming public performances.

walsfeo:
Seeing as how Penn & Teller made their names exposing magic tricks, I find this lawsuit interesting.

That's what I was thinking. If the guy wasn't selling it and just revealed how it's done, I'm sure it'd be a different story.

freakydan:
Anyone else reminded of The Prestige? One guy comes up with an impressive trick that he believes no one can figure out, then a rival magician goes about trying to figure it out, coming up with his own methods. The only thing left is for Teller and this other guy to keep one upping each other.

I loved that film! It got stupid at the end by completely switching genres though. Considering the film was about illusion 99% of the time the ending demanded a certain amount of suspended disbelief that the rest of film just hadn't prepared you for. Nevertheless, seeing Batman and Wolverine constantly trying to one up each other was definately fun ^_^

Sadly this is just how the world of Magicians has turned out. No longer about putting on a great performance that entertains people and changes their lives, it's about the money and explaining explicitly what it was that fooled you, no magic in it at any more. Not for all, but clearly for some. Perhaps copyrighting tricks and illusions is the way to go, since as the article states, choreographed works can be copyrighted.

Isn't part of what makes Penn and Teller is that they show a lot of how tricks are done? I guess its the fact that he sells the dvd for an atrocious price (or a price at all for that matter) is what it comes down to.

Zachary Amaranth:
Sawing a woman in half would be public domain by this time, as it dates back well over a century. Yes, you don't see people suing over that sort of thing. You also don't see people suing simply for covering an old folk song.

I'm not sure where this is the "obvious answer."

It has to do with fundamental differences between "copyright" and "patent." Copyright only applies to duplicable works -- recordings, written works (words or music), videos, and so on. Teller could hold copyright over the recording of a particular performance of this illusion, for instance.

Processes and gadgets can't be held under copyright. They can only be patented. An illusion is basically a particular process performed with specific gadgets, all of which could potentially be patented (if Teller went through the paperwork to do so). But that means that someone who devises a different process with different gadgets to produce a seemingly identical result would not be violating the patents (if they exist).

To use a different example: A professional skateboarder might be really, really good at a trick most people find impossible. He could record an instructional video of how to do the trick, and then sell it. He would hold copyright over the video, meaning I couldn't burn copies and give it to my friends, or show it for profit in a public space. The skateboarder, however, would have no rights to prevent anyone else from doing the trick itself, unless he somehow managed to score a patent on the process for doing the trick (highly unlikely).

DiamanteGeeza:

RJ 17:

DiamanteGeeza:
Any theories on how it's done?

Pretty sure the article says "It comes with an instructional video and a fake rose."

So I'd imagine they use a fake rose that's designed to fall apart.

Hmmm... remote controlled, maybe? It's still damn clever, even if that's the case!

I've only seen this trick done once (in the movie provided)... I wonder if he cuts the rose in exactly the same order each time he performs the trick...?

There'd likely be tiny electromagnetic joints. The knife is metal, a circuit is connected on the rear end of the projection screen and cuts the power (or even he literally cuts the circuit, but that'd require cabling). A mechanical joint would be too prone to failing I should think.

Note that any technological approach to the illusion would probably result in rather different legal circumstances to a mere sleight of hand or optical illusion as you'd have a specialised, unpatented device on hand. I'm no lawyer so take this with an entire sack of salt, but if it is a technological approach, I would suspect this is a lose-lose situation for Teller:
> He sues over the performance, and the sales of the DIY rose itself could remain acceptable: his method goes public.
> He sues over the invention (regardless of whether he has a claim or not), the method behind his trick comes out in the court proceedings.

ShockValue:

Evilsanta:
Woah, That is one hell of a trick.

I can understand why he wantts to keep it a secret.

Also copying someone elses trick sound like douchebag behavior.

Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.

Or cocaine

Microfiber threads run through the stem of the rose, down to the floor, across it, and up to specific points on the backboard. Cut them, and the petals "fall".

Or it could be something completely different.

ShockValue:

Evilsanta:
Woah, That is one hell of a trick.

I can understand why he wantts to keep it a secret.

Also copying someone elses trick sound like douchebag behavior.

Illusion, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.

Or candy!
So glad that show is returning

DiamanteGeeza:
Any theories on how it's done?

The way it's done is most likely very thin wire attached to tiny blades around each incision on the actual plant which you pull when miming the cut on the shadow

I'll focus on the illusion aspect of this story, because law and what is/isn't illegal confuses me sometimes. I am fascinated and bewildered at how law abandons logic on a regular basis...

That illusion is fucking crazy. That is one of those illusions that you look at, scratch your head, and go "...how the fuck?"

The problem isn't that the trick was taken, or even that it was exposed. Teller wouldn't have minded if another magician just did it in an act. The problem is that he is purely profiteering off of Teller's IP. Penn and Teller are famous for revealing tricks. They're also famous for, after revealing them, doing the trick better and in a way no one can then figure out. The bullet catch is an example of this. It's a very old trick, but they put unique spins on it to make it theirs.

This guy just stole a trick and sold the secrets, no show, no unique take, no improvement to make it his own. That's definitely a major violation of the magician's code and I fully support Teller in trying to bring this asshole down.

Penn and Teller are probably my favourite strict magic act. They're just phenomenal at what they do. Shadows is also one of my favourite pieces I've seen them do, next to the bullet catching obviously.

Bloody quoted the wrong person, sorry pal.

Tipsy Giant:

DiamanteGeeza:
Any theories on how it's done?

The way it's done is most likely very thin wire attached to tiny blades around each incision on the actual plant which you pull when miming the cut on the shadow

I don't think that's it.

Penn said in the video 'no one will figure out how it's done, and there is a much simpler way to do it.' because wires was my first thought too, but if Penn says that it's a hard trick to figure out, I believe him. Because these two are about as good as magic acts can get.

Hexenwolf:
I absolutely NEVER want to know how it's done. That illusion is magical.

I'm going to have to second you on that one, my friend. That is one of the best illusions I've ever seen. Short of the one where I saw a guy throw a cat in the air and turn it into a dove.

That was pretty cool.

I think it is more the fact that he wants to keep the trick a secret until he retires from being a stage magician.

Tipsy Giant:

The way it's done is most likely very thin wire attached to tiny blades around each incision on the actual plant which you pull when miming the cut on the shadow

This is what I came in here to post.

Unlike most of those who have posted here I wont say I understand the legal system in full (though I know that the laws are very different worldwide and from state to state) so I don't know if he's doing anything illegal. While I love Penn and Teller and I find this illusion really amazing I can't see why we should side with them. In one episode of Bullshit they said a lot about psychic mediums and the fact that it was bullshit that they had to sign legal documents in order to not reveal the details around the show before it edited. They spent an entire episode saying that mediums wanting to hide their secret was bullshit and called those people assholes. Now Teller is in the same position and does the same thing. This my friends, is bullshit.

Yopaz:
Unlike most of those who have posted here I wont say I understand the legal system in full (though I know that the laws are very different worldwide and from state to state) so I don't know if he's doing anything illegal. While I love Penn and Teller and I find this illusion really amazing I can't see why we should side with them. In one episode of Bullshit they said a lot about psychic mediums and the fact that it was bullshit that they had to sign legal documents in order to not reveal the details around the show before it edited. They spent an entire episode saying that mediums wanting to hide their secret was bullshit and called those people assholes. Now Teller is in the same position and does the same thing. This my friends, is bullshit.

It's been a while since I saw it, but I think the point of the episode was that the concept of psychic mediums is bullshit. They exposed tricksters who pretended they were genuine. P&T have never claimed that they are practicioners of actual -magic-. I think it's an important distinction to make.

That said, I'm not so sure I agree with the lawsuit. Wouldn't it be rather like one actor suing another actor for playing a similar role in different movies?

Klumpfot:

Yopaz:
Unlike most of those who have posted here I wont say I understand the legal system in full (though I know that the laws are very different worldwide and from state to state) so I don't know if he's doing anything illegal. While I love Penn and Teller and I find this illusion really amazing I can't see why we should side with them. In one episode of Bullshit they said a lot about psychic mediums and the fact that it was bullshit that they had to sign legal documents in order to not reveal the details around the show before it edited. They spent an entire episode saying that mediums wanting to hide their secret was bullshit and called those people assholes. Now Teller is in the same position and does the same thing. This my friends, is bullshit.

It's been a while since I saw it, but I think the point of the episode was that the concept of psychic mediums is bullshit. They exposed tricksters who pretended they were genuine. P&T have never claimed that they are practicioners of actual -magic-. I think it's an important distinction to make.

That said, I'm not so sure I agree with the lawsuit. Wouldn't it be rather like one actor suing another actor for playing a similar role in different movies?

Well, sure the main point of the episode was the cold reading and getting in touch with the dead was complete and utter bullshit. However one of the mediums had everyone in the audience sign contracts about not revealing anything that didn't hit the screen and he was an asshole because of this. The thing is that I love them for their work, but there's some serious hypocrisy in this deal. They called bullshit on someone who sued over revealing secrets, now they sue over revealing secrets.

chronobreak:

Tipsy Giant:

The way it's done is most likely very thin wire attached to tiny blades around each incision on the actual plant which you pull when miming the cut on the shadow

This is what I came in here to post.

and with that I have earned my title of ninja, finally... now where are my throwing stars?

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