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Uri Geller Accused of Bending Copyright Law 273

Posted by kdawson
from the more-pliable-than-spoons dept.
JagsLive writes in with a Fox News report about Uri Geller's apparently playing fast and loose with copyright law in order to silence his detractors. "'All it takes is a single e-mail to completely censor someone on the Internet,' said Jason Schultz, a lawyer for the online civil rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing Geller over an unflattering clip posted on YouTube for which he claimed a copyright ownership."
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Uri Geller Accused of Bending Copyright Law

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  • And again... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:34PM (#19819829)
    Nobody would've cared 'bout the clip if Mr. Geller didn't make it popular this way...
  • Re:Obviously... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:36PM (#19819855)
    We're stilling waiting for the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery."

          IMO that wouldn't mean shit. I personally am waiting for the one that says: "Psychic asked to stop buying lottery tickets".
  • Geller (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gradster79 (878963) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:45PM (#19819907)
    I suppose this is a bit of a shallow comment, but I love the Internet because when people do abusive things like Uri Geller and his unwarranted Youtube video removals, mass media will never/barely cover it. However the masses of the internet can show everyone what a tool Geller and others really are.
  • Re:oh geez (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:46PM (#19819919)
    The difference is that true magicians admit they're illusionists. Part of the contract with their audience is that they will fool them and that the audience will try to figure out their tricks. Geller does not claim to be a magician. He claims to actually do what he appears to be doing with the power of his mind.
  • One Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:47PM (#19819933)
    One solution that exists in the RIAA versus filesharer cases is that the RIAA has to provide a copyright registration certificate proving ownership of a song before they can proceed in court. Internet takedown notices should also require a certificate of copyright registration to accompany them. This one small step alone would likely stop 98% of the takedowns requested. While copyright itself does not require registration, if you don't care enough to register it, you shouldn't care enough to try to take it down afterwards.
  • Re:Obviously... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:49PM (#19819947) Journal
    For some reason, the casinos continue to allow psychics to gamble on their premises.

    Well, we know how gullible the casinos are - a stroll down the Vegas strip is proof of that.
  • by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:49PM (#19819951) Homepage
    YouTube can't defend a user's legal rights or they stop being covered in the law as a "safe harbor." Once they lose their neutrality their liability goes through the roof.
  • Re:oh geez (Score:4, Insightful)

    by byronf (649750) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:54PM (#19819983)

    There's a team of online bloggers trying to debunk a magician? Don't they have anything better to do? Come on, some people want to believe in magic, let them. Everyone else knows it's all slight of hand.
    Some people also want to believe that that they can make millions from helping out an exiled Nigerian dissident through email. Everyone else knows it's a scam.

    Geller does not claim to be a magician, he claims to actually posses mental powers. While many of us know this is silly, many people believe it, and are victimized because of it.
  • Oh, bullshit. If he actually owned the copyright, could demonsrate said ownership and evade the issue of "fair use," THEN I (a supporter of copyright in principle, but a believer that current law is way out of whack) would support Uri Geller. Since I believe that even if he does own the copyright in question, an 8-second clip being used as a demonstration of a hypothesis is, by definition, "fair use," I can believe in copyright and still call Geller out as a douche who is attempting to use misinterpreted (being generous) copyright law as a hammer against his critics.
  • by Wavicle (181176) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @06:56PM (#19820019)
    No I mustn't. I can support fair use of small clips for things such as bonafide criticism of a performance. It is completely consistent with my stance on copyright to deride Geller's use of DMCA to muzzle those who would expose his methods. The case in point concerns 8 SECONDS of video. I call that fair use, consistent with my support of copyright law.

    Just because you say it's so, don't make it so.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:01PM (#19820051)
    It's funny. Some "psychics" genuinely seem to believe in their own "powers", apparently mistaking intuition and cold reading skills for ESP. But Geller is different. Not only is he a fraud, he knows he's a fraud. If Geller really believed in his "powers", he'd be trying to demonstrate them in laboratory conditions, if only to embarrass James Randi. But he doesn't believe in his "ability", so he lies and sues people, and thanks to his attempted censorship of this expose, more and more people have learned about his deceit.

    What a sad way to live your life. All your achievements are fabrications, and you know that it's only a matter of time before even your most deranged fans realise they've been tricked. Where do you go from there? What are the job options for a notoriously fraudulent spoon bender?
  • Re:oh geez (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:07PM (#19820109) Journal
    While many of us know this is silly, many people believe it, and are victimized because of it.

    They are victims of their own faith. It doesn't matter who the huckster is. Just like people who buy from spammers are victims of nothing more than their own greed. They get no sympathy from me.
  • Re:oh geez (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linguizic (806996) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:22PM (#19820193)
    Dude, get off your high horse. Everyone comes in to this world knowing exactly jack and shit. All a brain is is some tissue on the end of a stick, once I realized that I found that I have nothing but sympathy for every creature who has to figure out this world with only that as their tool.
  • Re:oh geez (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:24PM (#19820205) Journal
    He's a genuine magician alright. If you're taken in by his "magic", your wallet disappears. What's the bet the money doesn't actually disappear though but ends up contributing to Uri's lifestyle.
  • Re:And again... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cairnarvon (901868) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:35PM (#19820275) Homepage
    Similarly, nobody would remember Geller exists if he didn't do idiotic things like this from time to time.
    He's an attention whore, plain and simple, and these lawsuits are doing exactly what he's hoping they will.
  • Re:oh geez (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ResidntGeek (772730) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:38PM (#19820305) Journal
    The problem is that most people DON'T try to figure out this world with their brain. They look around themselves and find the world is a confusing place, so they don't think about it - they refuse to think analytically about anything, they just develop through trial-and-error a set of reactions to various situations that gets them through almost anything. Then they cruise through life, without a reasoned or complete worldview, just waiting for the weekends so they can get drunk and think even less.
  • Re:One Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nsayer (86181) * <nsayer&kfu,com> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:39PM (#19820317) Homepage

    While copyright itself does not require registration, if you don't care enough to register it, you shouldn't care enough to try to take it down afterwards.

    I call bullshit.

    I recorded a video of my cat [youtube.com] a while ago and posted it to YouTube. Copies of it have sprouted up far and wide, uploaded to YouTube and Google Video and all sorts of other places. It got so bad that someone started sending around a bogus e-mail [snopes.com] with the video attached.

    It's just a cat flushing the toilet, right? Why should I care?

    Well, damnit, it's my cat, and all I want is credit for my own work. It's intolerable to me for others to get to take the credit, but any procedure more costly or onerous than the takedown procedure already in place would not be worth it. And the result would be that I would be disincented to create works and post them to YouTube. So much for promoting the useful arts.

    I do agree that those who abuse the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA and send bogus take-down notices need to be walloped. But let's not throw out the baby with the bath water.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:40PM (#19820329)

    What can one do? Learn about wireless mesh networking fast I guess...
    Yeah right, and risk getting sent to jail? Just search Google or Slashdot for all the wireless arrest stories.

    It's kinda risky to use wireless mesh networks because it's now a federal pound-me-in-the-ass offense to use an AP that you are not authorized to. What is to keep someone from setting up an open AP and then later reporting everyone as illegally accessing it? Totally stupid, I know.
  • by DrBuzzo (913503) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @07:41PM (#19820337) Homepage
    To be honest, it sounds like it's immature, but I simply cannot think of a better term to describe him that douchebag. This assclown goes back to the 1970's when he claimed he could bend spoons, keys and such with his mind. He claimed he could see things and do all other kinds of stuff. It's been debunked to death. Despite the fact that he was a good enough conman to get some scientists to even become intrigued. This analwart's stupid antics have been caught on take, in the act and yet somehow he can still make money on this.

    If he did this as a legitimate illusionist, then it would be fine, but he doesn't. And the reason is that he can't actually do magic illusions well enough to make money that way. So he has to use "Volume 1 of brutally simple illusions for completely incompetent idiots." And he commonly resorts to using the legal system to attempt to defend himself. Even if you have a belief in psychics (which I don't)... it's hard not to at least say *this* ratscrotum ain't one of them. Seriously.. He's just shameless and that's why he's still around.

    A lot of people have been made fools of by this guy. I credit James Randi with doing the most to assure Uri doesn't make too much money with his bullshit.


    This cartoon pretty much sums up how he gets away so long: http://depletedcranium.com/?p=14 [depletedcranium.com]
  • Re:oh geez (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sunburnt (890890) * on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:11PM (#19820569)

    The problem is that most people DON'T try to figure out this world with their brain. They look around themselves and find the world is a confusing place, so they don't think about it - they refuse to think analytically about anything, they just develop through trial-and-error a set of reactions to various situations that gets them through almost anything.

    Ooh, I was almost with you up until that part.

    Most people don't refuse to think analytically. They've just never learned, and their life experiences have not yet shown them the value of acquiring that skill. (Public schools tend to do that.)

    Assuming a condescending tone about the Great Unwashed shows, if anything, a lack of analytic thought about the factors that lead to an individual's ability for rational thought, or at least a lack of applying that thought to one's own life. While there are certainly some people (and, in my experience, a terribly small few) who have the ability for reasoned, analytic thought and actually refuse to use it when it would benefit themselves and others, they are vastly outnumbered by people who see no value in that ability which they lack, and may never have the experiences which lead individuals to see that value. Why condemn another based on the intelligence with which fate has bestowed them?

  • Re:Fraud (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EveLibertine (847955) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:42PM (#19820767)
    That's all fine and well, but IIRC Randi wasn't suing him for fraud, but trying prevent people from becoming mindless followers of Randi and buying into his hokey pseudo-religion. Secondly, it is debatable whether or not "people know magic is fake". Crossing Over, Faith Healers, Scientology, or most aspects of religion that people seem to get most caught up in, altogether garner the support and beliefs of hundreds of thousands of people. Randi is more or less concerned with protecting these damned fools from themselves, or at least providing them with an rational alternative from which they can choose.

    If you've ever followed the details regarding incidents involving Geller that have happened over the past few decades you'd realize how what he does can be a dangerous thing.
  • Re:One Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:47PM (#19820811) Homepage
    Uri Geller didn't hold the camera. Or post the video to YouTube, for that matter.
  • Re:oh geez (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ResidntGeek (772730) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @08:50PM (#19820819) Journal
    I don't think refuse is too strong a word at all. Most people aren't presented with an actual choice to think or not, but when they are they usually do actively refuse. Example: At work just a few days ago I got drawn into a political/religious discussion with a few people of probably average intelligence, and when two of them said they "didn't believe" in evolution simply because they didn't think we evolved from apes, we had quite a discussion about it. I tried several ways to break it down and figure out which part of the theory they didn't believe, or why they didn't believe it, or whether they distrusted the scientific method in general, and every time both of them very carefully avoided thinking about my points or explaining their position - every time they came to a point where a stock answer they'd read somewhere or heard in a sermon failed they brought it back to "well, I just don't think we came from apes, it's my belief."

    I went to Catholic school for 13 years, and several times per day we were reminded of the mysteries of the Trinity and whatnot that we couldn't understand, so we weren't to try. We learned about all the "heretics" who managed to formulate the Church's teachings into something coherent and were sentenced to an eternity in hell. I still hear those things at church every week. This is the religion of a sixth of the world's population.

    50% of the population has above-average intelligence. There aren't many people who are genuinely incapable of understanding the world, but there are many who don't bother to try.
  • Re:Dupe (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:41PM (#19821161)
    He's not a fucktard, he's just a total shitwizard. Yes, there is a difference.
  • Re:oh geez (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:42PM (#19821171)
    I wonder why you'd get into such a discussion at work. But then, your work environment would be a pretty alien place (I work in informatics with a bunch of university professors...)

    Beside the point though. Man didn't "evolve from apes."

    Man and Ape have a common ancestor, and the divergence was very, very long ago - probably 8 million years ago.

    Phylogenists do not put forth the claim that "man evolved from apes."

    Hey I went to Catholic school too -- an abbey school staffed by Cistercian monks who were among the last people to leave Hungary before the Russians took over. It was at this school, in a science course taught by a Hungarian Catholic monk, that I first heard the details of evolution explained in a proper way with respect to the prevailing theories and the scientific method.

    >50% of the population has above-average intelligence.

    That might make a good bumper sticker, but it's not a realistic or reasonable way of looking at the curve.
  • by nsayer (86181) * <nsayer&kfu,com> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:33PM (#19821493) Homepage
    Taking your ideas on is fine. But how do you feel if someone takes something you wrote, changes the byline (and nothing else) and posts it as their own? That would be perfectly ok with you because it would demonstrate how much they totally agree with you?
  • are you serious? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat (172735) * on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:08PM (#19821691)

    And the result would be that I would be disincented to create works and post them to YouTube. So much for promoting the useful arts.
    "Useful arts"? A video of a cat flushing a toilet? I'm guessing that even if you really are disincented to post similar videos to youtube, the rest of us will still manage to get by.
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday July 11, 2007 @04:45AM (#19823197) Journal
    Well, then you're still including folks like Uri Geller in the unethical category then.

    1. Uri Geller himself claims that he has been employed by some companies to dowse for minerals or oil, though none actually admitted it. I'm sorry, but if that's true, that's _exactly_ fraud. He's taken some money for a service he can't provide, and based on some qualifications which are bogus.

    2. There is a lot of damage done even indirectly in claiming to actually have psychic powers or being able to see into the future, for example by convincing people to lose their money on predictions and courses of action which don't work.

    E.g., Uri Geller himself often tells people on what sports teams to bet, but it turns out most of the time his picks lose. E.g., dowsing, in addition to the money actually taken for providing that bogus service, usually results in a company wasting a lot of money to actually drill there. The whole buying the rights, hauling the equipment there, salaries, etc, adds up to a fair sum.

    And while in this case it just boils down to money and faceless corporations, so I can imagine some people wouldn't feel much empathy there, but other quacks cause a lot more damage to normal people like you and me. E.g., psychic healers and the like routinely tell people to stop taking medicine, and are responsible for quite a few deaths. There have been even cases where some psychic or "holistic" healer quack told even people with _cancer_ to not have an operation, not take medicine, and ffs not even take the pain killers. So the they effectively have on their conscience (that is, if they had a conscience) causing someone to die in horrible pain over several months. How's that for damage done?

    Way I see it, even if it's not done for money, convincing people to do harm to themselves is still morally wrong. And society as a whole already decided that the worst cases of it should be illegal. E.g., entrapment is not just morally wrong, but legally wrong too. E.g., claiming to be a medical doctor without a diploma is illegal in most places. Etc.

    I don't have a problem there with those who admit they're just doing entertainment tricks, because then the audience knows it's just entertainment and won't base their RL decisions on it. E.g., not many people go and stake someone because they just saw a vampire movie. But claiming such powers to be real and giving people advice from a position of knowledgeable authority is an entirely different thing.

    3. A lot of the charlatans claiming powers and secret knowledge are busy overtly attacking science and the scientific method, to make it easier for themselves to get their credentials accepted. This causes society as a whole a lot more harm than you'd think. If nothing else, by making more people susceptible to be harmed by the con artists from points 1 and 2.

    But then that's the happy case, if only that was the damage done. It often causes people in positions of power and responsibility to put their funding and support in the quack camp, instead of doing some real science. When I hear stuff like corporations using numerology to thin the candidates pool, or using dowsing to find out where to drill next, that's not just directly X money which could be used on a more scientific approach and maybe discover something. That's also indication of a state of mind of trusting quacks over scientists, and I just don't see that company investing in scientific research the rest of the time.

    To get back to Uri Geller, again, that's what he actively does all the time. To establish his credentials as the uber-psychic, he _has_ to attack the normal science, and that he does plenty.

    So basically, to wrap this long rant up, there is no such thing as merely "hard" and "soft" psychics. "Hard" in that case invariably means a con artist who, directly or indirectly, does actual harm and is morally reprehensible in doing so. The question isn't just whether they bluff about their actual talents, but what actual harm they do based on that claim, or to support that claim.

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