by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 17th 2009 7:33pm
Welcome to the "ownership" and "entitlement" society, where people feel that you can't do anything without paying everyone. The latest such example is a lawsuit against the US Postal Service over a recent stamp that is a photo of part of the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC. The Postal Service licensed the actual photo, but the sculptor who made the memorial itself claims that his copyrights were violated. Yes. Copyrights. On his sculpture. On a public memorial. We've seen this issue crop up before, such as with the famous sculpture in Millennium Park in Chicago. In this case, the argument for fair use is even stronger. The photo in question clearly was transformative. It wasn't just a random photo of the statues. The guy spent a ton of time, taking hundreds of different photos before getting the "one" that he liked, trying to get the exact composition, angle, lighting, snow, etc. to get the image to appear as he wanted. On top of that, there's almost no claim that this use by the USPS harmed the original sculptor's financial ability concerning his copyright. He was not even trying to exploit the copyright commercially (and, if anything, this probably provided him a lot more attention, because now his work was on a stamp). In the end, the artist's contention seems to just be "I own it, I get to decide what happens with it." Unfortunately for him, that's not how copyright law works.
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