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Why is the Iwo Jima Memorial in Virginia? And why is there a copyright at the bottom of the statue? If copyrights are necessary for memorials, why don’t they all have them?
The “monumental” view of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol is why the National Parks Service decided on the Virginia location for the memorial, according to National Parks Service spokesman Bill Line, who notes that the memorial is actually called the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial since it is dedicated to all Marines who have died since 1775. Moreover, before construction began on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, no national war memorials were located on the National Mall (the lone war memorial on the mall was the D.C. World War I Memorial) since war memorials were thought better suited to be placed close to Arlington National Cemetery.
Officially dedicated in 1954, the memorial is based on a photograph by the recently-deceased Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal. Since the AP holds the copyright to the photograph as an “original work of art,” according to U.S. copyright law, the statue is considered a “derivative work” of the original. As a result, it is one of two monuments in the D.C. region with a copyright.
Monuments and memorials do not need copyrights, but if there is an inherent copyright issue at hand (like the Iwo Jima Memorial), or the memorial’s creator simply files the paperwork (as was the case with Korean War Veterans Memorial creator Frank Gaylord) a copyright will appear on the statue making it illegal for “Joe Blow or Suzy Creamcheese to take a picture of the statue …and sell it for cold, hard American cash,” Line says.
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