The ‘Fearless Girl’ statue popped up near Wall Street last month on the eve of International Women’s Day. The girl, staring down a bull with her hands planted on her hips, is intended to draw attention to the role of women in the workplace. However, the sculptor of the ‘Charging Bull’ statue alleges that the girl changes the creative dynamic of his work and thereby infringes his copyright. The iconic bull has inhabited the financial district of New York City since 1989.
This case bears some facial similarities to the Canadian copyright case Snow v. The Eaton Centre Ltd. (1982), 70 C.P.R. (2d) 105 where the Ontario High Court of Justice affirmed an artist’s right to the integrity of their work. The operator of the Eaton Centre in Toronto was found to have violated the artist’s moral rights by putting Christmas bows on the artist’s ‘Flightstop’ sculpture consisting of a flock of Canada geese in flight.
While the United States is typically viewed as providing weak protection for the integrity of an artist’s work, moral rights are protected in Canada under the Copyright Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42 and include an author’s right to maintain the integrity of the work and the right to be cited as its author. The difficult road ahead for the ‘Charging Bull’ artist is discussed here.