I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, and I don’t mean just small stuff like keeping a library book past its due date.
I’m talking whopping big mistakes. Life-changing mistakes. Tsunami-size mistakes.
The one comfort I have is that while I still occasionally have overdue library books, I’ve learned from the tsunamis. Learned well enough that I haven’t repeated those mistakes.
New mistakes, sure. But no tsunami repeats.
Not so our U.S. Postal Service.
Their tsunami-sized mistake came in the form of a $3.5 million copyright infringement fine USPS must pay to artist Robert S. Davidson after it used – and profited from – a picture of his creation, the half-size replica of the Statue of Liberty that resides adjacent to the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Apparently the mega-brains at USPS thought the image was the real deal – the full-size original in New York Harbor – and used it on a Forever stamp.
USPS began printing the stamps in 2010. Within months USPS was informed of their mistake by numerous credible sources, but kept printing the image anyway. The artist sued in 2013. The lawsuit was settled in July 2018.
But this wasn’t USPS’ first tsunami-sized copyright mistake.
In December 2013 USPS had to pay $685,000 to sculptor Frank Gaylord for using – and profiting from – a photograph of his creation, the central part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.
USPS stamp using an image from the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
Gaylord filed his lawsuit in 2006, it worked its way through various courts, Gaylord eventually won, and USPS paid.
That was USPS’ first tsunami-sized copyright mistake.
And from that first mistake, USPS learned:
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Hence the 2013 lawsuit by Robert Davidson, and a penalty approximately five times the size of Gaylord’s earlier settlement.
At this rate I figure USPS’ next copyright infringement tsunami should be worth at least five times Davidson’s settlement, or around $17 million.
Now all I have to do is figure out how to get USPS to use my image on a stamp: