Fair use? US stamp featuring photo of monument nets sculptor $650,000: Digital Photography Review

Fair use? US stamp featuring photo of monument nets sculptor $650,000: Digital Photography Review.

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.

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European Newspapers vs. Google – Copyright tug-of-war with consequneces.

A classic case of the tension between rights holders and technology companies. On one hand the technology companies (in many cases) enable greater uptake of the content. On the other, rights holders often see technology companies monetizing their content without and direct benefit to the rights holder. (Pinterest and Google are two of the big battlegrounds in this fight.) There is merit on both sides of this fight, and it is clear that not only do copyright laws need to evolve to logically deal with this tension, but so do the business models on both sides. There is not a clear new paradigm that works for both sides yet, but if one doesn’t arrive soon, there will be an awful lot of unnecessary casualties on both sides of this battle.

Gigaom

Google (s GOOG) has launched a broadside against a proposed law in Germany that would see search engines forced to pay license fees for linking people to news stories.

Well, actually that’s slightly inaccurate: the draft law would make search engines pay for reproducing newspapers’ headlines and first paragraphs. So, take those away and the links are fine. Even if nobody will have the faintest idea what they’re linking to.

Google’s North Europe communications chief, Kay Oberbeck, sounded off about the issue this morning in a guest post for a German press agency. That was in German, of course, so I got him to vent in English as well:

“Nobody sees a real reason why this should be implemented,” he said. “It’s really harmful, not just for users who wouldn’t find as much information as they find now, but such a law is also not justified for economic reasons or…

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Judge in the Google – Author’s Guild Case lets librarians and other pro-“fair use” groups file amicus briefs.

While not necessarily fully indicative of the judge’s thought process to date in the trial, the fact that her is permitting amicus briefs from the pro-“fair use” camp is at least somewhat telling. It will certainly be interesting to see where this trial comes out!