SIGNIFICANCE: LILLY V. SMITH

Case NameLilly v. Smith
Citation: 2005 NY Slip Op 51613U (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2005) 
TopicsContracts

Elwood Smith contacted the artist Charles Lilly about exhibiting his work at an art show at the Crown Plaza Hotel at LaGuardia Airport and on his website. Smith sent Lilly and his lawyer a contract which stated that they would be in the contractual relationship for ten years during which the defendant could reproduce and sell any of the plaintiff’s artwork. Lilly never signed the contract; however, he did allow Smith to represent him at the art exhibit. Later, Lilly discovered that Smith displayed photographs of his work on his website for sale. Smith refused to remove the photographs from the website, claiming that the two men were partners and that he was allowed to display the images.

The court ruled that Smith did not have permission to display and sell Lilly’s work on his website. The oral agreement between Smith and Lilly was void according to the Statute of Frauds because all agreements that exceed one year must be in writing.  There was no other agreement between Smith and Lilly. Smith is no longer allowed to post Lilly’s work on his website nor make a product line of various items featuring the Lilly’s artwork.  Further, all unauthorized reproductions of the Lilly’s artwork are enjoined.

These materials are not intended, and should not be used, as legal advice. They necessarily contain generalizations that are not applicable in all jurisdictions or circumstances. Moreover, court decisions may be superseded by subsequent rulings, and may be subject to alternative interpretations. Corrections, clarification, and additions are welcome here.