'Psychic' Uri Geller reaches copyright settlement

A deal between the controversial "paranormalist" and skeptic Brian Sapient was reached over a copyright dispute--but the terms of the deal remain a mystery.

Stephanie Condon Staff writer, CBSNews.com
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.
Stephanie Condon
2 min read
Uri Geller
Uri Geller UriGeller.com

Controversial "paranormalist" Uri Geller has settled a lawsuit claiming he misused copyright law to squelch criticism. But much like Geller's mysticism, the legitimacy of his legal dispute remains rather ambiguous--the terms of the settlement are mostly confidential.

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."

The offending video

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." EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry said the language in lawsuit filed by Explorogist was in the "UK context"--from where Explorogist is based. However, "our position was that the use in question was fair use," she said.

While most of the terms of the settlement are confidential ("It's one of those cases," McSherry said), Explorologist did agree as part of the deal to license the disputed footage under a noncommercial Creative Commons license. A monetary settlement was also reached, but McSherry could not say in favor of whom. So Sapient and others are free to decry Geller's alleged powers with those 8 seconds of video. But whether the skeptic triumphed over the paranormalist may never be known to those outside the case--at least those without otherworldly powers.