Trophy Strife

Sculptor says downtown partnership bootlegged his award design

A contract would obviously clear up the dispute, Cooper says. But, he notes, "If they didn't have a written agreement in advance signed by the parties that this was a work made for hire, then [Schmidt] owns the copyright."

Cooper cites a 1989 United States Supreme Court decision, Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, which involves a sculptor who was commissioned to create a statue for a nonprofit homeless group. Although the group had offered direction about the design and subject matter of the statue, James Earl Reid, the artist, created it as an independent contractor. When a dispute arose later, the courts ultimately decided Reid owned the rights to the piece.

The DREAMR awards were handed out last week; they honored Jerry Colangelo, assistant city manager Ray Bladine and the new Phoenix City Hall, among others. Schmidt says he called the city repeatedly in the days before the ceremony, but did not receive a response. "I thought it would be unfortunate if someone in the mayor's office was going to receive a bootleg award," he says.

Now he's trying to figure out what to do with the four trophies rejected by Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and he's assessing his chances in court.

Schmidt says he's not a confrontational person, but the partnership's behavior really bothered him. After all, he says, "They're the people that promote that downtown art thing.

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