1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Sunday, 22 September 2013

US Post Office to Pay $685,000 in Damages

Gaylord's sculpture entitled The Column
The US Post Office has been ordered to pay a historic $685,000 to Frank Gaylord after it issued a stamp that infringed copyright in Gaylord’s war memorial statues.  

In 1990 Vermont-based sculptor, Frank Gaylord, was selected to create a memorial to veterans of the Korean War. The resulting monument is made up of 19 life size, stainless steel, statues of Korean War soldiers, and is situated in Washington D.C’s West Potomac Park.

The US Post Office stamp
In 2002 the US Post Office issued a stamp to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. The stamp features a photograph of Gaylord’s statues in winter, surrounded by snow. The Post Office offered Gaylord no compensation, causing Gaylord to file a copyright suit in 2008.
The Federal Court of Claims initially held the re-use was a non-infringing, fair use. In particular, the court believed the Post Office’s use was transformative and unlikely to harm Gaylord’s market. The finding of fair use was reversed in 2010.
Frank Gaylord. Photo: Glenn Russell

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals believed the use was not transformative as both works served the same purpose i.e. the commemoration of veterans. The decision was remanded to the Federal Court of Claims to determine the appropriate damage level.

On Friday, the court awarded the 88 year old Gaylord nearly $685,000. Previously the highest compensation the Post Office has paid an artist was $5000. The Post Office says it “respectfully disagrees” with the decision and is considering whether to appeal. For Westlaw users the judgement is number 5290438.

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