1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 5 December 2013

US Post Office Sued Over Statute of Liberty Stamp

As 1709 Blog readers will remember, the US Post Office was recently ordered to pay $685,000 in damages to sculptor Frank Gaylord after using a photograph of his work as the design on a new stamp. Last week, another copyright suit was filed against the Post Office in similar circumstances.

Bartholdi's version (left) and Davidson's version (right)
Robert Davidson is the author of a sculpture called Lady Liberty of the Las Vegas Strip that sits outside the New York-New York Casino in Las Vegas. The sculpture is a half-sized replica of the more famous Lady Liberty statute in the New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and designated to the US in 1886.

In 2011, the Post Office printed three billion new postage stamps incorporating a photograph of the Lady Liberty statute.  Unfortunately, the photograph used as the basis of the design was not of the original, public domain, Lady Liberty statute, as the Post Office had intended. Instead, the photograph was of Davidson’s Las Vegas Replica.

The Stamp 
Davidson has now filed a case against the Post Office. He alleges that his statue is more feminine, more fresh faced, and more sultry than the Bartholdi version, and therefore sufficiently original to qualify for copyright protection.  According to Davidson’s lawyers, the original was simply “inspiration” that provided “loose height, width and depth requirements”. Additionally, Davidson’s version has more stylish hair, appears to be smirking slightly, and displays a plaque that reads “This One’s For You Mom”.

More information can be found here.

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