‘Spoon-bender’ Uri Geller has found himself at the center of an Internet controversy, after contacting YouTube to take down a clip – featuring James ‘The Amazing’ Randi debunking his ‘powers’ – which he says infringes his copyright by including footage which belongs to him. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is backing the YouTube poster of the video (‘Brian Sapient’, a pseudonym used by a member of the debunking group Rational Response Squad), and has filed a lawsuit against Geller for misuse of the DMCA (Digital Management Copyright Act), asking for payment of damages and a judgement on the copyright status of the video, due to the fact that Geller is not the copyright holder on the complete video, only one small part.
With most stories circulating on the Internet referring to the clip as being 3 seconds long (based on the EFF lawsuit filing), Geller’s lawyers have issued a press release in which they claim the clip is actually ten seconds long – which could be an important difference, in terms of copyright coverage of ‘fair use’ (interestingly, some stories have now changed their coverage to ‘more like 5 or 6 seconds’, but it is obviously 9 or 10 seconds if you watch the clip).
No matter what the outcome though, the result is a PR victory for skeptics such as Randi and the RRS. The publicity from the controversy has ensured even more people have seen the clip, and Geller comes across as a bully (and Randi portrays him as a fraud to boot). On the other hand, the EFF filing (and news stories across the web) stating that the offending clip was only 3 seconds in length (presumably the EFF took the word of Sapient?) is patently incorrect, and one can only wonder how a court will react to that issue – but which just goes to show more than anything, you should be skeptical of *everyone*, not just those claiming paranormal powers.