The U-S Postal Service got a special delivery the other day that arrived postage-due: A
federal appeals court says the agency has to pay damages to a Vermont sculptor.
Seven years ago, the U-S issued a stamp honoring Korean War Veterans that showed their
memorial in Washington. But the sculptor, Frank Gaylord, claims he never granted the
Postal Service permission to use his work. Even though the federal government paid him
775-thousand dollars for the statues, he apparently never signed over the copyright.
Gaylord's suit says he should get 10 percent of the 17 million dollars in stamp sales.
The Postal Service says the memorial is a work commissioned by the government and built
with public money.
The courts have gone back and forth on this one, and it may be appealed to the Supreme
Ever since the Postal Service got stung in 1980 and had to pay thousands of dollars in
licensing fees for a W-C Fields stamp, it's been VERY careful about copyrights. It has
attorneys who research this. Designs have been changed and entire issues dumped because
of rights hassles.
So if the Postal Service can't figure out this sort of thing, who can? What does that
say about stamp collecting accessories like albums and catalogues? Or all the picture
postcards of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and other public statues and buildings?
I'm Lloyd de Vries of The Virtual Stamp Club. For more on stamps and stamps collecting,