A civil liberties group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, has sued Uri Geller for using “baseless copyright claims” to silence critics who question his paranormal powers.
The suit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation came after Uri Geller who bends spoons allegedly by supernatural powers, sued a Mr. Brian Sapient in federal court on Monday after Sapient published an excerpt of copyrighted material on the video-sharing site, YouTube.
Sapient is a critic who belongs to the National Response Squad – a group dedicated to debunking what it calls irrational beliefs – posted a 13-minute video including an excerpt from the 1993 NOVA TV program “Secrets of the Psychics” in which magician James Randi claims that Geller’s spoon-bending feats were simply tricks.
YouTube, owned by Google Inc., took down the video after Geller complained.
“I am amazed by Sapient’s lack of regard for property rights of others,” stated Geller.
On Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, (EFF) has counter-sued Geller’s company in the U.S. District Court of San Francisco, on the grounds that Geller and Explorogist Ltd. are misusing copyright claims to silence critics.
The San Francisco-based EFF said the NOVA clip was considered fair use under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
According to EFF attorney Marcia Hoffman, “Uri Geller may not like it when people question his paranormal abilities. However, he is not allowed to stifle public criticism by misusing the law.”
I think the EEF are right of course. Since apart from my professional interest in Intellectual Property, I am a materials scientist by education and I regularly perform as a Magician, I wish to address the spoon-bending phenomenon.
As a teenager, I used to bend spoons, stop watches and light up light bulbs held in my bare hands. I stopped because some people who ought to have known better, believed that I was using supernatural powers. As a rationalist, I found this disconcerting. I although I regularly perform for children and sometimes do comedy magic for adults, I steer clear of the paranormal or supernatural and avoid mentalism effects.
Now this should not be taken as implying that I have anything against Geller personally. I have never met him. Indeed, I have never met the tooth fairy, Santa Clause, the Lubavicher Rebbe or other personifications of the supernatural.
I would like to meet Mr. Geller. One of my clients; serial inventor Meir Gitlis, was in school with him. Indeed they are co-inventors of a patent for reducing electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones (US 5,726,383 titled “Telephone radiation shield” – not one of mine, I’m afraid). Although Meir has promised to introduce us, it never seems to happen.
I have a copy of Geller’s autobiography “My Story” and some other material that he has published. I have also seen several effects performed by him (demonstrations of his powers). I did not find them believable – probably because I know too much about how such effects can be rigged.
Anyway, as a metallurgist, I am skeptical of bending metal by brainpower. As a rationalist conjuror, I have another problem: all magicians know how to do it, but nobody has ever explained to me why?
For those that are slow on the uptake, my question is why should someone able to distort metal by psychic power, simply ruin teaspoons? Why not create sculptures, make or mend bridges, weld ships, etc.?
Anyway, I bend balloons and leave spoons for such mundane purposes as stirring tea, etc.