Today, First Class postage increases to 55 cents per letter! Maybe part of this significant 10% hike is to pay for the damages the USPS had to pay when they lost a copyright violation lawsuit.

The Post Office printed nearly 5 billion stamps in 2010 featuring the Statue of Liberty image – only it wasn’t a picture of the real thing. Instead, they unknowingly chose a photo of a sculpture outside the New York New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The statue’s sculptor, Robert Davidson, sued for copyright infringement and won a settlement of $3.55 million. He argued that he had significantly feminized the sculpture enough to make it a distinct work of art.

In fairness to the Post Office, they did pay for the picture when they obtained it from Getty Images, a leading seller of stock photos, but apparently, that wasn’t enough of a license to replicate it 5 billion times without attribution.

So, the moral of the story: 1) plan to pay more for postage starting today 2) read the fine print when you contract or license copyrighted material and 3) if you see Lady Liberty in person, know that she’s a bit more rugged than her feminized sculpture pictured on the stamps!

Thanks, Meg!

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