Is This a New Wrinkle for Copyright Infringement?

Real Estate Agent with GreatWest Realty DRE# 00827565




Just about the time you think you’ve seen or read it all when it comes to copyright infringement, there comes a new wrinkle. 

A recent development could prove what happens in Las Vegas, needs to stay in Las Vegas!  And, it is pitting the U.S. Postal Service against Robert Davidson, sculptor of the Las Vegas Strip’s “Lady Liberty” statue! 



The designer of the “Lady Liberty” forever stamp released in 2011, apparently didn’t make use of New York Harbor’s Lady Liberty, as model for rendering the stamp’s image; but chose the Davidson’s sculpted work, occupying space outside of the New York-New York casino hotel in Las Vegas instead. 

It certainly brings to light a potential problem for bloggers, who often take photos of artwork, and sculptures, prominently displayed on public property, and then posting them to blogs. 

Recently, the Postal Service in a similar incident, was made to fork over a half million dollars in copyright infringement damages, to the artist who created the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

For an interesting article on this topic, visit: “Artist Suing Over Statue of Liberty Stamp.”  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


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Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Vision Quest Realty - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

This is interesting especially for bloggers that are always taking photos of our cities, statues, buildings, sculptures, etc. 

Dec 05, 2013 11:33 AM #134
Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Hi Myrl, I read about this too.  Whoever in the Post Office first decided to use a fake Lady Liberty made a huge mistake, like many have said, though- where does it end? photos of buildings, statues, cars...signs on buildings, billboards..couldn't they all be considered art?

Dec 05, 2013 02:17 PM #135
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

I think people have to realize a few things:  First of all, if owners of intellectual property didn't go to extremes in protecting their rights, their work would become next to worthless in a New York minute. Why buy it if  you can STEAL IT?  For photographers online - their work is all too easy to expliot if they have no legal hook.  Fear is a powerful stops people from doing the wrong thing.  There are too many people who can not or do not summon their better angles. 

Dec 05, 2013 10:38 PM #137
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Its hard to imagine the Post Office failing to vet the source of any image they decide to use. Intellectual property rights matter!

Dec 06, 2013 01:50 AM #138
Sean Africk

There is of course a concern here for some people who use copyrighted works on their blogs depeding on how they are used. In many cases, however, the application of Fair Use would protect the individual who posted such photos.

Also, it is important to note that buildings, or art that is part of a building (think Gargoyles) do not enjoy the same level of copyright protection as stand alone works.

Dec 06, 2013 06:46 AM #139
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Interesting article. I think this also says about the "who" is doing the infringement. Since the US postal service has deep pockets this makes them an much easier target for this. This does does not excuse them from not vetting the process.

Dec 06, 2013 11:06 PM #140
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Mary - I have wondered if the Postal Service had used the original Lady Liberty in NY Harbor, if the heirs to the artist and creator of it, would have come after them for copyright infringement!

Ruthmarie - You are right about fear often being a motivator.  Especially in litigation, where buckling, throwing money at the situation in settlement, rather than fighting it on through!  I'm really interested in following this case to see how it culminates.

Sean - I was just thinking of the paparazi, who film celebrities, with their designer clothes and coifs.  Can you imagine a hair designer taking umbrage with one of their hair styles being photographed, and then sold for commercial gain.  Look out tv shows, like "Entertainment Tonight" etc.  Ditto, for the gossip magazines.

Donald - I'm in agreement with you!  While the U.S. Postal Service should have had legal counsel to keep them out of harm's way.  I suspect the average person had idea that buildings, sculptures etc., may have certain dangers, when you photograph them, for distribution on blogs, or other materials we use to promote our business.

Dec 07, 2013 12:49 AM #141
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Myrl, I agree, it's becoming so outrageous that you can't even use your own photographs.  If it's not meant to be photographed, it should be hidden away in a dark room, only allowing those entering to do so without cameras.  I think Fair Use laws should protect us 'little guys' and we can let the attorneys take care of the big guys!

Dec 07, 2013 11:28 AM #142
John DL Arendsen
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

My New Years resolution is to only post my own creative work. It's getting too scary out there.

Dec 08, 2013 12:33 PM #143
Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Tourists take photos of the Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas all the time. It is on private property though, so I can see why the Post Office might have needed permission to use it. The Korean War Memorial is on public land so I do not understand why they were fined for that one. 

Dec 09, 2013 04:58 AM #144
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

Just so I understand.  Someone duplicates the original statue of liberty and then gets upset when someone further duplicates it.  Makes alot of sense.

Dec 09, 2013 07:15 AM #145
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Hun... - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Myrl, one thought springs to mind: I read the article after following the link you provided and it mentions that Davidson didn't actually visit the Statue of Liberty while he worked on his Vegas version...and my point is that he didn't dream up the Statue of Liberty...he got "his" inspiration from some source that wasn't his...sounds like someone might be suing him...just a thought. 

Dec 09, 2013 07:18 AM #146
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Nick - I agree!  That is the point I made in some of my earlier comments!  The Las Vegas artist, actually copied the NY Harbor Lady Liberty.

Dec 09, 2013 10:08 AM #147
Nick T Pappas
Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Hun... - Huntsville, AL
Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource

Sorry, Myrl.  I didn't read all the comments, but I thought it was fairly obvious and that have picked up on that and, of course you did.

Dec 09, 2013 10:11 PM #148
Mike West
Heritage Oak Properties - El Dorado Hills, CA
El Dorado Hills, CA CDPE, CNE, Licensed Loan Origi

Unfortunately, some agents and brokers ignore copyright law when it is convenient for them.  A few years ago I got a listing for a home far out in the country that had been listed by another agent but had not sold. I took my photos of the home and added them to the MLS and used them for other marketing.  I didn't have any better luck that the original listing agent.

A couple of months later I was searching the MLS for a buyer and found that another broker now had that home listed and was using all of my photos in his listing!  I called him and told him that he did not have my permission to use my photos and could either stop using them or pay me for their use. He appologized and told me that his assistant must have done that and that he would have my photos removed right away.

The next day I checked. My photos were gone. He was now using the photos taken by the first agent to list the home!!  Needless to say, I don't think much of this guy.  (The home never sold and went into foreclosure a couple of months later.)

The problem with copyright law is that someone has to be there to enforce it.


Dec 10, 2013 08:01 AM #149
Brien Berard
Remax Professionals Laurel MD - Laurel, MD
Maryland Real Estate Agents - Laurel Real Estate

This just sounds completely idiotic on the surface.  Perhaps with further digging, I might feel differently.

Dec 11, 2013 10:58 PM #150
Pat & Steve Pribisko
Keller Williams Greater Cleveland West - Westlake, OH

Myrl, this is a great example of how far copyright infringement can go.  The artist might have let the copyright infringement go if the USPS had given credit go if he had been given credit for his artwork.

Dec 14, 2013 12:32 AM #151
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Now, you can get into trouble just making a picture of an art work and posting online? I think, it is a nonsense. If they will do it, they need to go through all Facebook, pinterest, Twitter, etc. etc. accounts ~ it will mean everyone.

Dec 14, 2013 06:25 PM #152
Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

Myrl, I am sitting here shaking my head as I read comment after comment and I will leave it at that.  (In my next life I will be an attorney.)

Dec 15, 2013 06:27 AM #153
Robert Bob Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert

Myrl, I think this is another case of lawyers making something little a big issue to fatten their own pocket books. If something is on public display and you atke a picture the picture is yours not the artist. 

Aug 28, 2015 06:06 AM #154
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Myrl Jeffcoat

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