Teller wins copyright lawsuit over pantomimes in magic trick

| Mar 27, 2014 | Copyright Law

Magicians often come up with their tricks and magic acts. When someone else starts performing their magic acts, many wonder what they can do to stop others from stealing their tricks. Copyright laws often come to mind when thinking about ways to prevent others from using your ideas or products. However, copyright law does not include magic tricks. 

Since magic tricks cannot be copyrighted, are there any legal options individuals can take if someone else starts performing their magic acts? A recent copyright lawsuit is an example of the legal action individuals can take to stop others from performing their special magic acts. 

Teller, known for being in the popular group Penn & Teller, recently won a copyright infringement lawsuit against another magician who copied one of his illusions and posted the trick on YouTube. Teller filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the magician for using the same pantomimes in the magic trick. Teller accused the magician of using his copyrighted gestures in his Shadows magic performance. His pantomimes in this performance have copyright protection, which is why he won the lawsuit.

The judge ruled that Teller has evidence that he created the magic trick and pantomimes. The judge said that Teller has the rights to public performances of Shadows and he has copyright protection to prohibit other magicians from using his work in their performances. The case still needs to go to trial to determine what damages will be awarded to Teller. 

This lawsuit is very unique as it shows how copyright protections can be complex and there are several considerations judges will need to consider in copyright infringement cases. Business owners in California should see this case as an example of the importance of pursuing legal action against others who are using their copyrighted materials. Even if the case seems complex or difficult to win, it doesn’t hurt to look into taking legal action if it will protect your business. 

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Teller Wins Lawsuit Over Copied Magic Trick Performance,” Eriq Gardner, March 21, 2014