Teller prevails in ‘The Rose and Her Shadow’ copyright suit

In an update to this story, about the copyright lawsuit filed by magician Raymond Teller (of Penn and Teller), there is a resolution and it is good news for magic artists.

Teller Wins Lawsuit Over Copied Magic Trick Performance – Hollywood Reporter.

Teller is widely known as a great magician, but he has just pulled off a feat that is without equal among his peers. He has prevailed in a lawsuit against another magician who put up a copycat illusion on YouTube.

Belgian entertainer Gerard Dogge posted a YouTube video of an illusion called The Rose & Her Shadow and offered to reveal the secrets for $3,050. The caption on his video said, “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.”

That’s what led to the lawsuit, and before it got to summary judgment ruling this week, Teller went to lengths to punish Dogge for copyright infringement. Literally. Teller had to hire a private investigator to locate Dogge to serve papers to him, and for a while, Dogge evaded service in Belgium, Spain and other European countries. So Teller did a neat new trick. He emailed the court papers to Dogge and managed to convince the judge that his imitator had opened them. It was enough for the judge to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

When this incident first came to light, I wondered how someone would have the audacity to so boldly challenge Teller. He is incredibly smart and he will find you. Once he pinned down Dogge, the judge agreed this was a valid case of artistic theft. It will now likely go to trial to determine damages.

If a jury finds Dogge’s misappropriation to be willful, Teller will be entitled to up to $150,000 in statutory damages. If not willful, Teller might get up to $30,000. Besides copyright, Teller also has an unfair competition claim, and the judge is throwing this to a jury as well to determine whether Dogge’s YouTube videos were likely to cause confusion as to Teller’s involvement with Dogge’s commercial activity.

Having seen Teller do the ‘Rose’ performance in person and being left with my jaw on the floor, mesmerized, I can totally understand why it needs to be protected.


  7 comments for “Teller prevails in ‘The Rose and Her Shadow’ copyright suit

  1. Chris Howard
    March 22, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    That is great news!

    That particular trick is INCREDIBLE!

    If you haven’t seen it, and are a fan of magic, you should check it out.

  2. Christopher Cochran
    March 22, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Federal litigator here. As much as I like Teller (I’ve met him, great guy) and side with his legally, I gotta call into question this sentence:

    “He emailed the court papers to Dogge and managed to convince the judge that his imitator had opened them. It was enough for the judge to allow the lawsuit to proceed.”

    Service of process by email? I know you can certainly send subsequent pleadings (motions, notices, discovery, etc.) by email AFTER the party has been served and made an official appearance, but e-mailing the actual service of process itself? I don’t know any Federal Rule of Civil Procedure or state rule/statute regarding service of process that would allow that. Not saying it doesn’t exist, but I’m certainly not ware of it

    Regarding Judge Mahan’s order I STILL don’t know where he got the legal authority to accept service of process of the initial suit by email; the order is merely his summary judgement ruling.

  3. BobM
    March 22, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    Funny how America “became great” by ignoring copyright and patent laws, yet now they are the biggest upholders. Strange that.

  4. March 22, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    Did we “ignore them” or just not have the process in place to deal with it? For a while perhaps, much like everyone else. We are a litigious culture here. That actually limits creativity, I think.

  5. D S
    March 23, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    Considering this guy doesn’t even live in the US (The ‘offender’), good luck getting that $150k ‘judgement’ from him. I mean, I’m happy for Teller (though, he ‘convinced’ the judge that the guy opened it (if he didn’t he’s lying to a judge)), but still.

  6. Nos482
    March 23, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    Raymond? Didn’t he legally drop his first name?

  7. Rex Dart
    March 24, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    I think what really happened was a message like this being left on Dogge’s voice mail:

    “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my trick go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. ”

    It’d be pretty frightening, I think, especially from someone who ordinarily doesn’t talk! 🙂

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