NEVADA, U.S. - The US Postal Service (USPS) is said to have got itself in a situation after a major goof up that has cost the service $3.5 million.
According to reports, the postal service was ordered to award $3.5 million in damages to a sculptor behind a Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty.
The fine was ordered since the postal service mistakenly used a photo of his creation on a popular stamp.
The sculptor Robert Davidson created the replica for Lady Liberty for the New York-New York Hotel and Casino.
However, after USPS licensed a photo of the Las Vegas statue from the image service Getty for $1,500 believing it was an image of the New York monument on Liberty Island, it was slapped with a lawsuit.
Subsequently, USPS was ordered to pay Davidson the money, who claimed he was owed royalties for unauthorized use of an image of his statue.
The photo was used on one of the postal service's most common stamps and the reportedly licence covered rights to the photograph but not the statue itself.
In December 2010, this resulted in the "forever" stamp being released.
Reports noted that it took four months before the mishap was identified and the postal service continued using the stamp until January 2014.
In the lawsuit, Davidson claimed that he had tried to make Lady Liberty "more feminine,” but the USPS argued that the Las Vegas statue was a mere replica of a well-known statue and pointed out that the sculptor was not entitled to copyright protection.
It further pointed out that the photograph was permitted by copyright's fair use rule since it saw minimal value from using an image of Davidson's slightly altered interpretation of the original statue.
However, siding with the sculptor, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims concluded that the modifications were large enough to give the sculptor's work originality.
The postal service further agreed that Davidson was not owed anything more than $10,000, even though the artist argued he was owed a percentage for each of the billions of stamps sold.
In its ruling, the court focused on the 3.23 percent of the stamps which were sold, but had not been used because they were either lost or were being held by stamp collectors.
This, the court said represented a "complete profit" for the postal service since they were not used to send mail and the unused stamps brought in over $70 million for the Post Office.
The court awarding Davidson a 5 percent royalty for each unused stamp plus $5,000 in damages.