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Q: Copyright/Licensing information for US Postage Stamp images ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Copyright/Licensing information for US Postage Stamp images
Category: Business and Money > Advertising and Marketing
Asked by: cygnus2112-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 30 May 2005 06:16 PDT
Expires: 29 Jun 2005 06:16 PDT
Question ID: 527247
I'm interesting in learning what copyrights exist regarding the images
of US postage stamps.  Also interesting in licensing information.

My understanding is that images of stamps from 1978 to present are
copyrighted by the USPS, but it's unclear as to whether stamps prior
to that are public domain, or have copyrights by the original

Any help determining how stamp images may be used for commercial
purposes would be great.

Thanks in advance,
Subject: Re: Copyright/Licensing information for US Postage Stamp images
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 30 May 2005 07:12 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Bryan,

Quite a number of sources state unequivocably that the Post Office
holds the copyright for all stamps issued after January 1, 1978, and
that -- prior to this date -- stamps are in the public domain.

For instance, have a look here:
...U.S. postage stamps...While not technically public domain after
1978 (all stamps before that are in the public domain) the USPS has a
liberal licensing policy regarding stamps....

or here:
All US postage stamps and other postage items that were released
before 1978 are in the public domain...

Numerous other sites make the same claim.

I find sites like Wikipedia and to generally be quite
reliable in terms of the information presented, and the passage of a
law specifically granting copyright to the USPS certainly suggests
that they were copyright-free prior to that time.

However, there is no clear-cut confirmation of this that I could find
from the USPS itself.  The closest they come is this:
The United States Postal Service (USPS) owns the copyright to all
stamps issued after 1977...

The same link also has licensing instructions for using post-1978
stamp images where the copyright is clearly held by the Postal

In particular, see the links at this page for:

--Non-Commercial Stamp Use Application

-- Commercial Stamp Use page

You can email the USPS directly using the "Contact Us" form provided here:

and can certainly ask them for clarification regarding copyright status.

I trust this is the information you were seeking.  Before rating this
answer, please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.
 Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'm at your service.


search strategy -- Google search on [ stamps USPS "public domain" ]
and similar searches at the site itself.
cygnus2112-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Excellent!  Thanks for the links.  This information was what I thought
was correct, glad to have a second opinion.  Thanks again.

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