The USPS Made a 3.5 Million Dollar Photo Rights Mistake.

Statue of Liberty Forever Stamp.jpg


In 2010, the U.S. post office wanted to create a new Forever Stamp of the Statue of Liberty. This wouldn't be the first time Lady Liberty has been on a stamp. In fact, the Statue of Liberty has been on stamps almost as long as there have been pictures on stamps. There have been a 3, 8, 11, 15, 16, 22, 29, and 32 cent versions.  It's iconic America, what else would you want on your outgoing mail? 

However, when the Post Office started to design a new stamp they didn't send out photographers to shoot new pictures of the statue, they did what everyone else does... looked at stock photos on Getty Images. 

Once they found the image they wanted. They cropped it and did some tinkering and produced the stamp. Like all other Statue of Liberty stamps, the forever stamp was a huge seller...

Except they used the wrong statue. 

They used a photo of the Statue of Liberty that's in front of the New York-New York Hotel in Las Vegas. Now here's the crazy part. It says in the keywords of the Getty listing that it was of the Statue of Liberty Replica in Las Vegas. No one at the Post Office read the description because who would think that there would be another Statue of Liberty that's worth photographing. Now even though it's a replica, it isn't an exact copy but more of an artist's interpretation of the statue of liberty. 

Here are the statues side by side.

Statue of Liberty Side by Side.png
(Vegas statue on left, photo by: Mr TGT - Real Statue on right, photo by: Esparta Palma)

The Post Office had printed over 3 billion of the stamps before they recognized their mistake, but the stamps were selling so well they just changed the description of them to note that it was the statue in Las Vegas and continued to sell them. They sold so many that they made an estimated $70 million dollars in profit. 

Robert Davidson, the Las Vegas sculptor who made the New York-New York statue, sued the USPS in 2013 for copyright infringement. He argued that his statue was sexier and more attractive than the original. The USPS tried to get it dismissed because his work is a copy of one of the most famous landmarks in the world. 

Five years later, however, Federal Judge Eric Bruggink decided that Mr. Davidson statue was more "fresh-faced" and "Sexier" and awarded him a whopping $3,554,946.95 plus interest. 

Davidson's attorney Todd Bice told the Associated Press:

"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,"

So, make sure you read the fine print when you're downloading a picture to put on a product that you're going to sell as it could cost you a lot of money

Source: AP