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Uri Geller Settles YouTube Lawsuit

News today that Uri Geller has settled a recent lawsuit related to his takedown of YouTube videos which offered a skeptical look at his ‘powers’:

The legal battle began when Brian Sapient, a longtime skeptic of Geller’s, used footage from a NOVA documentary to create a 14-minute video on YouTube debunking Geller’s powers. Geller’s company, Explorogist, sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice to YouTube because some of the NOVA material–about 8 seconds–was under copyright owned by Explorogist. YouTube suspended Salient’s account, making his videos unavailable for about two weeks.

Sapient and the Electronic Frontier Foundation subsequently filed suit against Geller, claiming that those 8 seconds were permissible under U.S. fair use laws. That would mean Explorogist breached the DCMA requirement that anyone filing a takedown notice must state, “under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.”

Explorogist, in turn, filed a lawsuit of its own, arguing that the copyrighted footage was used “within a sequence of cinematographic images” that “infringed the plaintiff’s copyright.”

The EFF website has plenty of information regarding the lawsuit, for those interested. However, it’s not so clear exactly what the result is. Most sites around the intarweb, at this point, are saying the EFF prevailed over Geller – for example, at Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow mentions the settlement as the “EFF’s latest victory: forcing “psychic” Uri Geller to eat crow”. However, the terms of the settlement are being kept confidential – all that has been said is:

As part of the legal settlement, Explorologist has agreed to license the disputed footage under a non-commercial Creative Commons license, preempting future legal battles over the fair use of the material. A monetary settlement was also reached.

It really depends who received the monetary settlement. Did Geller “agree” to licence the clip, as well as have to pay some money (superficially, odd – if you’re going to pay out money as part of a settlement, why also agree to the Creative Commons licence…unless it was to reduce the monetary settlement). Or did he “agree” to licence the clip, in return for a monetary settlement? Without that information, it’s really hard to know who really emerged as the “victor”, if anybody.

In any case, hopefully this case provides some sort of benchmark for frivolous YouTube takedowns, and sensible copyright enforcement to allow for creative innovation, and critical comment.

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