Have you ever fallen in love? With a fellow human being, with a pet, with an item. Just anyone or anything. Have you ever loved wrong? For instance, you could love a pair of shoe, because you find it pretty but then it does not fit because it is not the right one for you. And despite knowing that whatever you adore is not meant for you, or is just wrong, you still keep it. It is like when you acknowledge a mistake but then again it feels so right. Confusing, huh?
Well, some time back in the US, the US Postal Service (USPS) found itself in a wrong kind of affair, where it fell for the wrong face. In 2010 the agency used an artist’s version of the Statue of liberty in some of the stamps it printed. The Postal Service’s manager in the stamp development department, found the photograph at Getty Images to be suitable to replace a popular Liberty Bell stamp. He claimed that his attention was caught by a different and unique angle shot of the Statue, without realizing that the photo had been taken in Las Vegas
The officials of USPS purchased the said picture from Getty Images at a total of $1,500 to license it.
The said version of the statue of liberty, was recreated in 1996 by Robert Davidson who is a sculptor. Robert made a replica of the statue for a New York themed hotel in Las Vegas, however, he did some bit of modification on it. According to Robert, he added a few facial features inspired by a photograph of his mother-in-law. The sculptor’s eyes are stated to be different from those of the statue, its face more round and the jaw line is less massive.
In 2011 the postal service realized that it made a mistake by printing the wrong image, but still it did not make any changes or take any action in regards to the sculptor. This prompted the owner, after realizing that his worked had been used against his consent to move to court and sue the government.
Now, just what is the definition of copyright? It would be best to have a clear, very clear understanding of this term. So copyright, is an exclusive legal right, which is given to an individual to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material for a fixed number of years. This is exactly what the USPS violated by using Robert’s work without his approval.
While in court, the artist claimed that his version of the statue is much “sexier” due to the key changes he made.
The judge who presided the case, then ordered the USPS to pay Robert a fine of $3.5 million dollars as compensation, after confirmation that the agency indeed went against the copyright law. The ruling based on a calculation of 5% of the profits made by the service from the selling of the stamps.
As the court reached an agreement with Robert’s description of the artwork, “Mine is a little more modern, a little feminine and appears softer as well as more contemporary, than the original version”, it ruled that the plaintiff made a creation of his own as a replica of the statue, with changes that are easily identifiable, especially with the face.
"We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway," a Postal Service spokesman told The New York Times in 2011, describing the stamps as "Forever" stamps meaning happily ever after. This love as beautiful as it was, did not actually get to last long after against the agency got sued.
When, you love so wrong.