Anyone who violates one of the exclusive rights granted to a copyright owner under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 infringes that persons copyright and is a copyright infringer. Even the U.S. Postal Service is not immune to copyright infringement lawsuits. In 2010, the Postal Service printed the wrong Lady Liberty graphic on billions of Forever stamps.
Instead of using the original 19th-century version, the Postal Service accidentally printed a more “fresh-faced” Lady Liberty stamp based on the replica at the New York-New York casino in Las Vegas created by sculptor Robert S. Davidson.
Davidson immediately stated the that Postal Service did not obtain copyright permission. He filed a copyright lawsuit against the USPS in 2013, claiming the image was used without his approval. Furthermore, according to the lawsuit claim, USPS hadn’t stopped using the Las Vegas Lady Liberty stamp even after the agency had discovered the copying infringement.
In a recent article on the Lady Liberty stamp, Artisy.net writes: In a 2011 email USPS “still loves the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway.”
Last week, Federal Judge Eric Bruggink agreed with Davidson and ordered USPS to pay $3.5 million to the artist.
Dave Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, stated in an email that the Postal Service is reviewing the judge’s decision and would comment “if and when appropriate.”
Davidson’s attorney, Todd Bice said: “As the court noted, Mr. Davidson’s artistic creation of the Las Vegas Lady Liberty is highly unique and attractive, which is what prompted the US Postal Service to select a photo of his work for the second ever Forever Stamp, over hundreds of other images.”