11 juillet 2018

Lady Liberty is not at everyone’s liberty

The American postal service will have to pay damages to the tune of 3.5 million dollars because it mistakenly printed the wrong image of the Lady Liberty on a stamp.

In 2010, the postal service issued a stamp with an image of Lady Liberty. The postal service thought it had used a picture of the Statue of Liberty in New York, but it was actually a picture of another Statue of Liberty, located in Las Vegas. The original 1886 Statue of Liberty is no longer protected by copyright law. According to the court, the one is Las Vegas is protected and that led to all the resulting consequences.

The statue in Las Vegas, designed by artist Robert Davidson, has been standing since 1996 in front of the New York Casino. It is approximately half the size of Lady Liberty in New York. This was not really noticeable on the image used by the postal service. After 3 million stamps were printed, the mistake was noticed by an attentive stamp collector.

The artist was not amused and claimed that this was an infringement on his copyright. According to him, the stamp was an edited reproduction of his original copyright work. His Lady Liberty is not a scale model of the New York Statue of Liberty, as the postal service claimed, but a new work of art. At the hearing, the artist explained that his version was more sexy and feminine than the original. The eyes and lips are different. The American judge compared the images and concluded that there were clear differences between the faces of Lady Liberty in New York and the one in Las Vegas. That is why the statue in Las Vegas is protected by copyright.

Thus selling the stamp with the Lady Liberty from Las Vegas was regarded a copyright infringement. The postal service was ordered to pay 3.5 million dollars in damages, considerably more than the 233,000 dollars that the artist made when he sold Lady Liberty to the casino in Las Vegas.