The United States Postal Service Owes $3.5 Million Over Statue Of Liberty Snafoo
The United States Postal Service (USPS) was ordered by Judge Eric Bruggnik of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to pay Robert Davidson $3.5 million in damages for copyright infringement.
Back in 2010, USPS released a new “Forever” stamp that featured Lady Liberty. Unfortunately, the Statue of Liberty in the image was not the one found in New York but from the replica statue at the New York, New York hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Post Office didn’t realize the mix up until several months later, but due to the fact that they were a best seller continued to print the stamps well into 2014 – selling a total of 4.9 billion stamps.
The sculptor Robert Davidson of the replica Statue Liberty argued that the replica is different enough from the famous NYC landmark that it should be classified as an original art piece. “At the time of this replica statues’ unveiling many observers thought the replica was fresh-faced, sultry and sexier than the original”, the suit said. And since the stamp featured the replica’s face Judge Bruggnik agreed.
“The portion used was entirely of what we consider to have been the original work contributed by Mr. Davidson,” the judge wrote. “The government’s only real defense is that its use did not particularly harm plaintiff’s business as an industrial sculptor. That may be true, but we also note that it certainly did not benefit him. The Postal Service offered neither public attribution nor apology.”
The Postal Service even when fully aware of the error continued to promote and sell the stamps. A USPS Spokesperson was reported saying on CNN back in 2011, “We really like the image and are thrilled that people have noticed in a sense. It’s something that people really like. If you ask people in Vegas, they’re saying, ‘Hey that’s great. That’s wonderful.’ It’s definitely injected some excitement into our stamp program.” A USPS Spokesperson also told The Washington Post in 2013 that the office would have chosen the image anyway even if they were aware of the error when first published. It’s a sad day for Odessa, Texas.