Saturday, January 19, 2019

"Athletes Don’t Own Their Tattoos. That’s a Problem for Video Game Developers."

Another interesting story from around the holidays:  the New York Times reports on a series of lawsuits against sports video game makers by tattoo artists (for example, where the LeBron James character in a video game includes LeBron James's actual tattoos).

NYU's Christopher Sprigman says:

"All seem to agree that 1) tattoos [are] copyrightable, yet 2) tattooed person has [an] implied license to walk around in public. But why doesn’t [the] implied license include [the] power to authorize reproduction/distribution of one’s image, w/tats? Isn’t that protected by 1st Amendment?"

Annemarie Bridy agrees:

"The implied license should cover any actual or virtual appearance of the tattoo as long as it’s incidental to the appearance of the tattooed person."

(To which Sprigman responds:  "Agreed. This entire developing genre of 'let's shake down the video game companies w/some new tattoo copyright litigation' should end.")