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  • Henry Park

Is it copyrightable?

Bruce Munro is an internationally acclaimed artist from England that specializes in creating works from light fixtures (see website).

Munro recently sued Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (“Fairchild”) in Coral Gables, Florida, alleging that Fairchild imported, installed, and publicly displayed “indistinguishable copies” of his original sculptural artwork (Munro et al. v. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Inc. et al., No. 1:20-cv-20079 (S.D. Fla.)).

Fairchild filed a motion to dismiss his lawsuit (Dkt 35), and the court denied the motion (Dkt 65). As part of the motion, Fairchild alleged that Munro's works were not copyrightable because they were not "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works". Rather, Fairchild argued that Munro claims copyright protection in “fiber-optic light products” that make up his sculptural works, and that he was required to plead that the creative elements in this works are separable from the light fixtures. The Court rejected the Garden's position stating that "the Works are protectable under the Copyright Act as sculptures".

Photo from John Lord on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 2.0

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