San Diego – A statue of rugby legend, Michael Jones, which is supposed to be placed outside the Rugby World Cup headquarters in Eden Park, New Zealand, is the focus of a copyright infringement debate.
Sculptor Richard Wells, who has since been dropped from the statue project, has filed a copyright infringement suit claiming that he has been cheated out of money owed to him and co-authorship of the statue. The statue is a one-and-a-half time life size replica of Michael Jones. “I’ve changed it from something that looked like a robot to something which is actually flying through the air,” Wells commented.
Natalie Stamilla sees it differently. Her father, Geoff Dale, snapped the famous photograph of Jones in the moment just before he scored the first try in the 1987 Rugby World Cup. Stamilla claims that the idea for the statue came from her and that Well’s was hired to only do the “grunt work” and that his artistic input was limited. She added that it was completely herself and her father who designed the look of the statue and so Wells should have no copyright rights to it.
The dispute centers around two separate images and two very different accounts of how the statue was transformed into what it is. Stamilla is claiming that although she had no experience sculpting with bronze before, it was “the next step” in her life-long sculpting career.
“There was no way they could work it out,” Wells exclaimed, referring to Stamilla and her father. “If you don’t have a history and a body of work that leads to something like this, there’s no credibility to it,” he added.
The statue, which commemorates the moment Jones dived across the line to be the first person to score a try in the opening game of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, cost an estimated $300,000 to create and will be on permanent loan to Eden Park.