In an interesting case involving a postage stamp depicting a photograph of the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the U.S. Postal Service has been found to have infringed upon the copyrights of the sculptor who created the Memorial. It appears that at the time the memorial was commissioned, that the government did not secure copyrights to the statute, which by default remained with the sculptor.
Subsequently the U.S.P.S. made use of a photograph of the memorial on a postage stamp. When sued by the sculptor for copyright infringement, the U.S.P.S. unsuccessfully argued that their use was “fair use”, and accepted defense to copyright infringement. Ultimately the federal court determined that the Postal Service’s use of the intellectual property did not fall within the definitions of fair use, and after much pushing and pulling byt he respective sides, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims as found that the U.S.P.S. owes the sculptor $684,844.94 in damages for its infringement of his copyrights.
This case highlights the complexity of the application of intellectual property law and the high stakes involved in failing to secure the appropriate rights to use intellectual property in a particular way.