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Vt. sculptor wins settlement over stamp image

BARRE, Vt. — A Vermont sculptor has won a historic settlement of nearly $685,000 in his lawsuit against the US Postal Service for copyright infringement in its use of an image of his work on one of its stamps.

Frank Gaylord of Barre had sued the Postal Service seven years ago over the printing of stamps with an image of soldiers that he had sculpted for the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington.

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The Postal Service said Friday that it ‘‘respectfully disagrees’’ with the US Court of Federal Claims’ damages decision and is considering whether to appeal, the Burlington Free Press reported.

The Postal Service had not offered Gaylord compensation for the image used on a 2003 stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Korean War’s cease-fire. In 2008 the Court of Federal Claims sided with the Postal Service, ruling the use of the photograph taken by a retired Marine was exempt from copyright protection.

On appeal by Gaylord’s attorney, the decision was reversed in 2010.

The Court of Federal Claims on Friday determined Gaylord was due $684,444 in damages.

Gaylord’s attorney, Heidi Harvey of the Boston law firm Fish & Richardson, said she was very pleased that the 88-year-old Gaylord had been ‘‘vindicated in his request for just compensation for the Postal Service’s infringement.’’

‘‘We feel the Postal Service should have been, through this entire dispute, willing and able to share a small percentage of those sales with Mr. Gaylord,’’ she said.

Gaylord also had sued John Allie, who took the photograph of the memorial, and was paid $1,500 by the Postal Service to use it.

Allie agreed in a settlement to pay him a 10 percent royalty on future sales of the image.

In figuring the damages on Friday, the court used the same 10 percent to determine the fair market value of Gaylord’s copyright and determined that the Postal Service made an estimated $5.4 million for stamps bought by collectors. The rest of the award was from royalties on the sale of merchandise and prejudgment interest.

Prior to this, the largest settlement the Postal Service had paid as compensation for an image on a stamp was $5,000.

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