Monday, July 09, 2007

Uri Geller Runs Afoul of YouTube Users
For nearly as long as Geller has been bending spoons and moving compass needles with the wave of a hand, professional magicians have been loudly debunking his claims of psychic ability.

A new generation of critics led by 30-year-old Brian Sapient of an organization called the Rational Response Squad have taken their crusade online. Sapient and others recently posted several video clips to YouTube demonstrating how Geller allegedly uses simple sleight of hand in his act.

One slow-motion clip shows Geller quickly placing a small magnet on his left thumb before purporting to move the needle of a compass in front of a live television studio audience in Israel, where Geller was born. Another includes Geller's infamous "Tonight Show" flop, in which Johnny Carson exposed Geller by providing his own spoons and other props.

In March, San Bruno-based YouTube Inc. took down many of the clips and suspended Sapient's account when Geller sent takedown notices claiming he owned the copyrights to the unflattering clips. That touched off an online tempest that has made Geller the subject of widespread derision and ridicule on several popular blogs like

Posted partly for entertainment -- it's always amusing to unmask the Gellers of the world as the frauds they are* -- but also because it has to do with the whole fair use concept grad students have to deal with all the time, but also researchers. Most grad students spend at least half of their budget making photocopies of articles and such, which is generally held to be "fair use". I presume that media researchers -- analyzing network broadcasts, for example -- are also generally covered because they are using copyrighted broadcast material for research purposes.

One hopes this doesn't start spilling over into research. I'm not aware of any archaeological examples offhand. Blogging? No, I don't post entire articles, but I do post snippets of sub-only papers. That I think would be covered. OTOH, I once linked to a video of Steve Martin's King Tut on SNL, but the link to it has since been taken down. Can't find it anywhere anymore either. I suspect it was probably taken down under threat. But, of course, that's probably not fair use, unless I were to comment on, say, the accuracy of the reconstructed textiles and musical styles and their relevance to a contextualized meta-analysis of Dynastic patriarchal religio-socio-whatchamacallit thingamabob.

I gotta try that sometime. . . .

* I say so fearlessly without regard to the possible legal ramifications.