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Should Teller win lawsuit over stolen trick?

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In case you hadn't heard:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2131052/Facing-wrath-Magic-Circle-Penn-amp-Teller-sue-Dutch-entertainer-threatened-sell-secret-signature-trick.html

Teller of Penn & Teller is suing another magician who was attempting to sell the secret to Teller's trick in a youtube video. Teller did copyright a drawing of how the trick appears.

Is the secret to a magic trick intellectual property? Does the behavior conducted while performing a trick constitute material form and practical application of knowledge? Would it matter if he had never referred to Teller but claimed to have discovered it independently?

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You can copyright the act, obviously (simply by recording it, actually), but that just means no one else can go on stage and do that same exact act.

It doesn't mean no one can describe how it's done, using his own words/drawing: that would be a violation of the First Amendment.

Edited by Nicky
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So he can't stop someone from sharing the information through a non-performance medium, but he should be able to demand sites like youtube remove videos of others performing the trick?

I have no idea how copyright works, or how it ought to work, with magic tricks. One thing that comes to mind, however, is that whoever this is who is selling the secret is advertising using Teller's name. That might give Teller standing to demand it be stopped.

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I think Nicky has fairly well covered the bases on this one, except the legality of how Dogge acquired his ability to perform Teller's act. It matters if Dogge figured out how the trick works on his own, or if he somehow managed to steal how the trick works. The information presented so far is vague on this point. It's not illegal to "reverse engineer" a copy righted product, although there have been efforts to limit reverse engineering. If Dogge purchased a ticket to the act, and then went home and figured out how to recreate it, he's entitled to profit from his effort.

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I think a better approach to protecting magic tricks themselves (as opposed to just performances) would be through patents (of any original design of a device used in performing a new trick).

Since magic tricks are just a combination of physics and theatrics, I think that between these two it is perfectly feasible for any truly original magician to protect most of his work from being stolen by other performers.

But it will never be possible for anyone to protect a magic trick from being revealed, which is what Teller is actually trying to do here. The sharing of information, no matter how it was obtained (yes, that includes stolen by any third party), is and should always remain off limits to government censorship.

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The sharing of information, no matter how it was obtained (yes, that includes stolen by any third party), is and should always remain off limits to government censorship.

So espionage should always remain off limits to government censorship? Perhaps I'm misreading your position??

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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