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USPS Ordered To Pay $3.5M To Artist After Accidentally Using His ‘Sultry’ Version Of Lady Liberty Statue On Stamps

A judge has ruled that the US Postal Service must pay a sculptor $3.5 million in royalties (plus interest) because they mistakenly used a photo of his sculpture of the Statue of Liberty, and not the original, on a stamp in 2011.

The artist’s name is Robert S. Davidson and he made the sculpture for the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. When experts saw the stamp and mentioned the discrepancy in 2011, USPS confessed they messed up.

Davidson proceeded to sue the postal service.

On Monday, a judge determined that Davidson’s version is indeed different from the original (in particular, he added a “sultry” quality to the face) and it looks like USPS will be paying for their mistake, big time.

The judge stated:

We are satisfied that plaintiff succeeded in making the statue his own creation, particularly the face. A comparison of the two faces unmistakably shows that they are different. Having determined that the face of plaintiff’s sculpture is distinct, original, and protected, we find that defendant’s use was infringing.

Here’s a tweet containing Davidson’s statue:

Twitter was ready with the jokes:

The differences between the real Lady Liberty and the one where artistic liberties (pun intended) were taken are subtle.

As this Twitter user noted:

Copyright laws can be pretty tricky, and most people don’t have a full understanding of them.

Some commenters were confused and had questions.

Others tried to supply answers at length and ad nauseam. 

Check out some of the back-and-forths:

A lot of commenters were really, REALLY stuck on how the USPS was at fault when the image was from Getty:

Apparently, the USPS ran into a similar problem prior to this when they used an image of the Korean War Veterans Memorial. You’d think they’d at least learn from past mistakes.

In this case, it looks like Davidson will have an extra 3.5 million to go toward future sculptures.

H/T: Gizmodo, Twitter


Written by Vanessa Nix Anthony

Vanessa is a freelance-flame-haired-word-ninja-for-hire with a passion for storytelling. Her writing has been featured in The Oregonian, Baltimore Magazine, Oregonlive, KPTV, Metro Parent, and Trulia, among others. She’s the author of the Amazon title, “In Less than a Year,” and her successful Portland-based copywriting agency, The Portland Writer has been helping businesses tell their brand’s unique stories for over a decade. When she’s not writing, cooking, or making magical worlds out of cardboard for her son, Vanessa is hard at work illustrating her forthcoming children’s books or belting out karaoke to favorite 80s or Disney villains tunes. TWITTER: @nessnix, INSTA: @nessnixtony