The U.S. Supreme Court in April 1988. From left, front row: Thurgood Marshall; William Brennan, Jr.; Chief Justice William Rehnquist; Byron White; and Harry Blackmun. Back row from left: Antonin Scalia; John Paul Stevens; Sandra Day O'Connor; and Anthony M. Kennedy.
The Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of the sculptor James Earl Reid in 1989.

After the sculpture was completed, CCNV attempted to assert that, as the commissioning organization, they controlled the copyright to Reid’s sculpture. The legal battle over the copyright to the sculpture ensued and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in Reid’s favor in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Thurgood Marshall — a decision that vindicated Mr. Reid’s copyright and continues to benefit independent contractors as the definitive reading of the work for hire doctrine in U.S. copyright law.                

The sculpture was timely registered soon thereafter by Reid, in the U.S. Library of Congress, in 1986. This event preceded the ensuite of what was an unmerited CCNV copyright dispute that waged by CCNV, in CCNV vs. Reid, following CCNV having won in the U.S. District Court “on their  their prior dispute for the Replevin of their homeless monument “Third World America: a Contemporary Nativity” in August of 1986. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, of the U.S. District Court, for the 5th Circuit in Washington, D.C. ruled on both the Replevin and the Copyright issue that followed in CCNV favor. Reid was represented however by the Morgan, Lewis and Bockius Law Firm of Washington, D.C. at the appellate level. They won the copyright issue in Reid’s behalf based on the literal interpretation of the Law. Reid’s case then moved on to the U. S. Supreme Court for it’s final disposition that took place in a unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court decision, authored by Justice, Thurgood Marshallvindicating  Reid and all independent contractors on the definitive reading of the “Work for Hire Doctrine” of U.S. Copyright Law in “CCNV vs. Reid”on June 6, 1989.

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