Can a magic trick be copyrighted? And if so, is revealing the secret behind the trick copyright infringement? This is one of the main questions in a law suit by the famous magician duo Penn & Teller against Dutch entertainer Gerard Dogge, stage name Gerard Bakardy.
Gerard Bakardy recorded his own illusion called ‘The Rose & Her Shadow’ in a YouTube video and allegedly offered to reveal the secrets for $3,050.
When Teller saw the video, he immediately realized that it was a copy his trick ‘Shadows’. He immediately called Bakardy and offered money if he didn’t disclose the mechanics of the illusion. However, the two were not able to come to an agreement. So, now Teller is suing his fellow magician.
The case is very interesting, as it may help us to see what the level of copyright protection is that magicians have over their tricks.
It may not be of much debate that an original magic trick can be protected by copyright. However, does this copyright help you against someone who is just revealing the “magic” behind the trick? That’s a very interesting question.
You may remember Robert Rice, the magician that sued Fox in 2003 for airing its program me “Breaking the Magician’s Code”, where a mystery magician reveals how some of the biggest magic tricks are done. The 9th Circuit wrote: “The mere fact that both The Mystery Magician and the Specials reveal the secrets behind magic tricks does not by itself constitute infringement. Rice’s claim, therefore, may only succeed if the Specials infringed upon the presentation and stylistic elements of The Mystery Magician.”
MarkMatters.com is curious if Teller can pull this trick off. Or if it will be the Dutchman will show the magic.