Uri Geller sued after quashing questioning clip
By Simon Aughton
Posted on 9 May 2007 at 11:37
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued Uri Geller after he persuaded YouTube to remove a video, which he said violated his copyright.
In March, Geller sent a DMCA take-down notice to the Google-owned video sharing website after he discovered that Brian Sapient, a pseudonym, a clip entitled 'Secrets of the Psychics', which challenges his claim that his spoon-bending antics are evidence of psychic powers.
YouTube immediately informed Sapient that the video had been removed and his account suspended, which meant that 100 videos he had posed were unavailable for a fortnight. The EFF is representing Sapient, a member of the Rational Response Squad, an online campaign against what it considers to be irrational belief, and adopted the pseudonym after receiving threats.
The EFF argues that YouTube was wrong to remove the 13-minute clip, since it contains only three seconds of footage for which Geller claims the copyright. This, the EFF says, is a 'classic fair use of the material for criticism purposes' and Geller's decision to file a take-down notice 'violates the DMCA requirement that copyright holders only send takedown notices for infringing content'.
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a set of stringent - and controversial - copyright restrictions introduced in the US in 1998.
'Uri Geller may not like it when people question his paranormal abilities. However, he is not allowed to stifle public criticism by misusing the law,' said EFF staff attorney Marcia Hoffman. 'If the publication of a video does not infringe his copyright, then he cannot block its use - it's as simple as that.'
The EFF filing asks for damages due to Geller's violation of the DMCA, a judgement that the video does not infringe Geller's copyrights and an order restraining Geller from bringing any further legal action against Sapient in connection to the clip.
'We've seen a rash of people abusing the DMCA lately, attempting to take down legitimate criticism and commentary online,' said staff attorney Jason Schultz. 'To allow thin-skinned public figures like Uri Geller to abuse this system forces critics to remain silent and creates unfair hurdles for free speech to thrive online.'
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