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OFF BEAT: Magician wins lawsuit over protecting tricks of the trade


Penn & Teller have been performing magic tricks for decades, but they certainly don’t want copycats offering to explain their signature tricks for a price.

Raymond Teller — Teller’s real name — won a copyright infringement lawsuit against Belgian entertainer Gerard Dogge in U.S. District Court in Nevada on March 20, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Mr. Dogge posted a video on YouTube of a magic trick similar to Mr. Teller’s signature “Shadows” trick and offered to reveal the secrets for a mere $3,050, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“I’ve seen the great Penn & Teller performing a similar trick, and now I’m very happy to share my version in a different and more impossible way for you,” Mr. Dogge wrote in the caption of the video, according to the report.

Mr. Teller had copyrighted “Shadows” in 1983, and U.S. District Judge James Mahan ruled that the magic performance cannot be copied, the Hollywood Reporter stated.

“While Dogge is correct that magic tricks are not copyrightable, this does not mean that Shadows is not subject to copyright protection,” Judge Mahan wrote in his ruling, according to the report. “Indeed, federal law directly holds ‘dramatic works’ as well as ‘pantomimes’ are subject to copyright protection, granting owners exclusive public performance rights. The mere fact that a dramatic work or pantomime includes a magic trick, or even that a particular illusion is its central feature, does not render it devoid of copyright protection.”