By Nathan Barton
Government, and government monopolies, are bad enough. Especially things like the Post Office (USPS). The “justice system” (the Nazgul) is yet another perfect example of such. Government abuse of the court system is sickening.
But bad as government is, some private persons and organizations are as bad or worse. Especially those that use government for their own ends.
Consider patent and copyright trolls. There is Disney and other media outfits, who bash and harass and steal, using government. There is that café or convenience store chain that attacks businesses for using the same logo colors and shapes as theirs (“Buc-ee’s“).
The latest example is this one, reported by Fox News today:
In a case over a stamp, a sculptor has won in court against the US Postal Service. The USPS is supposed to give him 3.5 million dollars because they used a picture of “his” Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas, instead of the “real one” on Liberty Island. This was based on the “profits” the stamp generated for the USPS.
Which is which?
The sculptor was paid less than a quarter of a million dollars for his work at the New York New York casino on the Vegas Strip. But the Nazgul based the money on how much the USPS “profited” from the “illegal” use of the photo of the statue.
The copyright troll sold the statue to the casino. But a federal Nazgul decided that he had “intellectual rights” to the statue and pictures of it. Because the Vegas face is slightly different from that of the original one. (A gift of France to the “people” of America (interpreted as “Federal Government”) way back in the 1880s.) It seems, among other things, the Vegas face is “sexier.” A postal committee selected the Vegas photo from dozens, not realizing it was not the original, and used it for the Forever Stamp. The USPS didn’t learn it was the “wrong” statute for months, after billions of stamps were printed.
Again, note: the artist (scam-artist?) does not own the statue, either on Liberty Island or in Las Vegas. He did not have to pay a royalty to either the people who own it or the FedGov which claims to hold it in trust, for recreating the Statue in a slightly different form, different location, etc. The statue in Vegas belongs to whomever owns the casino. The sculptor made something and sold it to them.
And of course, the statue in Las Vegas is one of hundreds (if not thousands) of replicas. Many cities and towns (among them, Loveland and Greeley, Colorado) have replicas (albeit much smaller than that one in Vegas) in local parks. And millions of people have smaller replicas, from a few inches to a few feet in size. Tens of thousands of people have made and used photographs, paintings and sculptures (even if they are tickytacky souvenirs five inches high) of the statue, in all sorts of things. To my knowledge, none of them have been forced to pay for “violating” a copyright.
So what do we have?
A Nazgul that thinks that symbols which belong to the people (like the Statue of Liberty) actually belong to the government, and that people who do representations of that (in paintings, sculpture, and no doubt photographs and videos) can claim a copyright on those things.
A sculptor that thinks he can still own what he sold. Who thinks that a reproduction of a photograph of something he made (and sold) can be protected by our arcane copyright laws, and he can control who uses it for what. And get paid for it.
A situation in which the incompetent USPS has just found another way to not make a profit by wasting money on a copyright troll. And I suppose we can also blame their incompetence for getting into the mess in the first place, by not being careful of what photos they were considering. (But, really…)
A situation in which people who take pictures of this statue in Las Vegas can apparently now be sued for infringing this guy’s copyright, if they use the photo. (Indeed, how many hundreds of thousands of people have taken pictures of this statue? How many times has the Vegas Chamber of Commerce or the Nevada Tourism Bureau or tour groups and travel agencies used a photo of this statue?) In which people wonder if the architect who designed the replica of the Empire State Building at the same casino has “intellectual rights” to his interpretation of that building and can also sue people and companies – and government agencies – who “use” that picture. And for that matter, does the casino have to pay the City of New York to use “New York New York” for the casino?
Somewhere (probably in France) there is a person or some company that inherited the intellectual rights of the men who designed and built the statue (designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel). Maybe they should get a cut of this $3.5 million?
Government, and the insane laws made by government, are a bane on our existence. Setting aside the urgent need to abolish all government monopolies (of which the Post Office and the courts are just two), we need to explain to people how much worse life is because of nonsense like this.