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Spoon-Bending 'Paranormalist' Ramps Up Illegal Attacks on Online Critic

June 12, 2007

Spoon-Bending 'Paranormalist' Ramps Up Illegal Attacks on Online Critic

More Bogus Copyright Claims in Uri Geller's Frivolous Lawsuit

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a judge Monday to dismiss a frivolous lawsuit filed by Uri Geller -- the "paranormalist" famous for seemingly bending spoons with his mind -- because of its blatant attempt to silence critic Brian Sapient with bogus copyright claims.

Geller's quest to shut down Sapient's criticism started when Sapient uploaded video to YouTube challenging Geller's assertions about his mental powers. The 14-minute segment came from a NOVA television program, but Geller and his corporation Explorologist Ltd. claimed the video infringed its own copyrights and had the video removed from YouTube. Sapient filed a counter-notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), had the video restored to YouTube, and sued Geller for misrepresentation.

As Sapient was challenging Geller's meritless claims, Explorologist filed a separate lawsuit against Sapient. The suit includes more bogus charges, with many of them based on the assertion that Explorologist has the copyright to eight seconds of the introductory footage in the NOVA video. EFF's motion to dismiss the case points out the numerous holes in this claim, arguing that even if it were true, eight seconds is a classic fair use -- especially given the critical purposes of the use. The brief also argues that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects Sapient from infringement claims and other charges in Explorologist's complaint, immunizing Sapient as the publisher of third-party content.

"Copyright law is meant to protect creative artists, not hypersensitive public figures who don't like criticism," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "The First Amendment does not allow Geller or his corporation to silence legitimate discussion of his abilities."

Meanwhile, Sapient's lawsuit against Geller is still pending before the Northern District of California. The suit asks for damages due to Geller's DMCA violation, a declaratory judgment that the NOVA video does not infringe Geller's copyrights, and Geller to be restrained from bringing any further legal action against Sapient in connection to the clip.

For the full motion to dismiss Geller's suit:
http://eff.org/legal/cases/sapient_v_geller/sapient_motiontodismiss.pdf

For more on Sapient v. Geller:
http://eff.org/legal/cases/sapient_v_geller

Contacts:

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

Jason Schultz
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
jason@eff.org

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