USPS to Pay $3.5 Million as Result of Statue of Liberty Stamp Lawsuit
In 2010, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) printed a symbol of freedom unique to the United States on its Forever Stamps. An image of the iconic Statue of Liberty standing proudly in the New York Harbor welcoming tired and weak immigrants was printed on more than four billion stamps. However, there was a problem ... an image of the wrong statue was used. The USPS used the "sexier" version of Lady Liberty found in Las Vegas standing tall in front of the New York Hotel & Casino.
The USPS chose an image of the statue from Getty Images and, three months later, it was notified of the mistake. However, since the agency had already printed billions of stamps showing the Las Vegas Lady Liberty rendition, it attempted to make the best of the situation, CNN reports.
"We really like the image and are thrilled that people have noticed, in a sense," a USPS spokesman told CNN in 2011. "It's something that people really like. If you ask people in Vegas, they're saying, 'Hey, That's great. That's wonderful.' It's certainly injected some excitement into our stamp program."
Admitting to the error wasn't enough, though; the damage was already done. Last summer, the sculptor who rendered the Las Vegas statue - Robert S. Davidson - sued the USPS seeking retribution for the agency using his statue, rather than the original statue. He argued there was a significant difference between the original statue and his artistic rendering, with the lawsuit stating:
[The statue] drew inspiration from “certain facial features of his close female relatives” that include “a fuller chin; a rounded jawline and neck; a softer and wider mouth in relation to the nose; [and] lifted corners of the mouth to create a friendlier expression.”
According to CNN, lawyers for the USPS argued that because the Las Vegas statue was a replica of the original statue, it would deem his copyright invalid. The court did not agree. On June 29, a federal judge ruled in favor of Davidson, saying the USPS should pay him $3.5 million. It determined Davidson's work was original enough, specifically mentioning the facial differences.
"A comparison of the two faces unmistakably shows that they are different," Judge Eric Bruggink wrote, according to CNN.