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Teller (The Silent ½ of Penn & Teller) Sues Over Magic Trick

By Edward Tan, JD | Last updated on

The quiet half of magic and comedy duo Penn & Teller is suing for copyright infringement. Teller's magic trick lawsuit alleges that Dutch magician Gerard Dogge infringed on his magic act "Shadows."

Dogge, stage name Gerard Barkardy, titled his version of the trick "The Rose & Her Shadow." Dogge allegedly posted videos of himself performing the act on YouTube, Reuters reports. At the end, Dogge offers to reveal the trick's secret for $3,050.

So what did Teller do in response?

He tried to make Dogge's offer disappear. Unfortunately for magic fans, Teller attempted to do this by offering Dogge a cash settlement instead of something cool, like needles.

But Dogge allegedly wanted more money, Teller's complaint said. Dogge then threatened to sell the trick's secret if his demand wasn't met.

Like other creative works, a magic trick can be copyrighted as a "pantomime." The standard applied by the U.S. Copyright Office is that the act must be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which the work can be performed" in order to qualify for a copyright.

Generally, this means either a video of the magician doing the trick or a written explanation of it. Teller, born Raymond Teller, opted for the latter and copyrighted "Shadows" in 1983.

Since then, the silent illusionist has performed the trick thousands of times, according to the complaint. He regards "Shadows" as one of his most iconic magic acts.

The trick works by Teller standing in front of a white screen with a rose's shadow. As Teller slices leaves off the shadow with a knife, both the rose and its shadow's leaves also fall off.

Teller's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Nevada. No word yet on whether an injunction has been requested to keep Teller's magic trick under wraps.

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