The U.S. Postal Service has been found liable for using a copyrighted artwork of Sculptor Robert Davidson without permission. The case which was brought before a Federal U.S. Court has awarded Sculptor Robert Davidson $3,554,946.95 in royalties plus interest over the Postal Service’s illegal use of an image of the plaintiff’s work.
The focus of the lawsuit was the use of a copyrighted image of Lady Liberty that the USPS believed was of the original monument in New York harbor not knowing the image was owned by the plaintiff, sculptor Robert Davidson’s kitschy Statue of Liberty replica at Las Vegas’s New York, New York hotel.
In reaction, the attorneys of USPS argued that the artists design was not too different from the original for the plaintiff to claim copyright.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that his version of the famous stature is more advanced and contemporary and therefore should be accorded to him solely. Davidson has other works to his name including “Joan of Arc at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas and a Mount Rushmore-styled sculpture featuring Dudley Do-Right characters at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida,” according to the court document.
Davidson further said that “the statute was designed to look more appropriate for the new hotel in Las Vagas although it would look similar to the skyline of New York, but it wouldn’t duplicate it”.
“I just thought that this needed a little more modern, a little more contemporary face, definitely more feminine, just something that I thought was more appropriate for Las Vegas” – Davidson Added.
The USPS sold 4.9 billion of the Lady Liberty stamps, amounting to just over $2.1 billion in sales, and $70,969,419 million in profit. The USPS had paid Getty Image $1,500 to license the image.
Case Name: Robert S. Davidson v. The United States
Case Type: Copyright Infringement; Fair Use; Running Royalty; Mixed License; Flat Fee License
Date Filed: June 29, 2018
Case No: 13-1942C
Judge: Eric G. Bruggink