U.S. Postal Service Owes Nearly $685,000 in Lawsuit Over Stamp

Is a stamp featuring the Korean War Memorial worth that much? One court thinks so.

National Journal
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Marina Koren
Sept. 25, 2013, 4:57 a.m.

For most people, a stamp is worth a few dimes. For Frank Gaylord, however, it’s worth $684,844.

Sev­en years ago, the sculptor filed a law­suit against the United States Postal Ser­vice for copy­right in­fringe­ment. He said the agency had used, without per­mis­sion, a pho­to­graph of the Korean War Vet­er­ans Me­mori­al in Wash­ing­ton, which Gaylord cre­ated, for a 37-cent post­age stamp com­mem­or­at­ing the 50th an­niversary of the war.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Fed­er­al Claims ordered the postal ser­vice to pay Gaylord $684,844 in dam­ages. The pay­ment has made the sculptor more money than the ac­tu­al me­mori­al he com­pleted in 1995. Gaylord re­ceived $775,000 to cre­ate the 19 stead­fast sol­diers in the 1990s, but kept only about $200,000 after ex­penses, USA Today re­ports.

In 2008, the court ruled in fa­vor of the postal agency, stat­ing that its im­age of the pho­to­graph con­sti­tuted “fair use,” but Gaylord’s at­tor­ney won a re­versal of that de­cision two years later. The six-fig­ure pay­ment re­flects the amount of roy­al­ties Gaylord might have re­ceived from USPS sales of the com­mem­or­ative stamp. The sum shat­ters the pre­vi­ous re­cord for the largest stamp set­tle­ment ever paid by the postal ser­vice, a com­par­at­ively mere $5,000.

h/t Colin Schultz