Tattoos & Copyright Laws

Options
jono
jono Members Posts: 30,280 ✭✭✭✭✭
1yqihjsurkwg.png

VICE: So can you copyright a tattoo?
Jeremy S. Goldman: Copyright separates the physical output of an artist from the right to the art itself. When an artist makes and sells a painting, that gives the person who bought it the right to the art itself, but doesn't usually give them the right to commercialize it and put it in a movie or commercial or something.

Copyright exists when you have an original work of authorship in a fixed medium of expression. The question becomes, is the human body a fixed medium of expression? There's no question a canvas or photograph is. Most people think, and at least one court has determined, that the body can be considered a fixed medium. Therefore, tattoos are subject to copyright protection. And since the person who creates the tattoo and puts it on somebody's body is generally the tattoo artist, that artist, by default, owns the copyright.


So what rights does a tattoo artist have to the ink on a client's skin?
My opinion as a lawyer, and where I think courts would come out on a lot of this stuff, is that when a tattoo artist gives somebody a tattoo, it is accompanied by a very broad implied license. That's certainly going to include the rights for that person to appear in public, to presumably appear on television, to go about their life as they would normally live it, and to display their body as their body would otherwise be displayed. I think that's almost certain. But then the question becomes what about when you make use beyond that? For example, uses where a tattoo is separate from a body. Does the implied license cover that?

So where do things get murky?
A good example is Whitmill vs. Warner Brothers, a case dealing with the plot of The Hangover Part II, where Ed Helms's character wakes up with Mike Tyson's tattoo on his face. The tattoo artist for Mike Tyson sued Warner Brothers, and in fact tried to get a preliminary injunction to stop the film from being distributed. The case ended up settling, but before the case was settled, the judge did seem to think that the tattoo artist had a pretty good chance of winning on some sort of copyright infringement claim. This wasn't a question of Mike Tyson being in the film. This was about using the tattoo—completely detached from Mike Tyson's skin—and putting it on another person.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/yw37g7/a-lawyer-explains-who-really-owns-your-tattoos?utm_source=vicefbus

Comments

  • MD_PROPER
    MD_PROPER Members Posts: 1,526 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2017
    Options
    Copyright laws on Tattoos seems like a stretch... When you hire a tattoo artist they're more like a contracted employee and anything they create for a client belongs soley to the client and can be displayed and shared at the clients disgression. The artist loses all rights to the work once their services are paid for.

    As for copyright infringement, the artist has no right to the tattoo after the services were rendered, so there's nothing to infringe on.

    Inb4 people start taking contracts to ink sessions
  • marc123
    marc123 Members Posts: 16,999 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
  • DoubleShotHelix
    DoubleShotHelix Members Posts: 500 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    MD_PROPER wrote: »
    Copyright laws on Tattoos seems like a stretch... When you hire a tattoo artist they're more like a contracted employee and anything they create for a client belongs soley to the client and can be displayed and shared at the clients disgression. The artist loses all rights to the work once their services are paid for.

    As for copyright infringement, the artist has no right to the tattoo after the services were rendered, so there's nothing to infringe on.

    Inb4 people start taking contracts to ink sessions

    Yep, the same as being bought out for a song you wrote or produced. You don't get residuals or points. That ? is 100% the complete intellectual property of the purchaser.


    With tattoos its even dumber though considering 99.99999999999% tattoos are not even remotely original.
  • jono
    jono Members Posts: 30,280 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    MD_PROPER wrote: »
    Copyright laws on Tattoos seems like a stretch... When you hire a tattoo artist they're more like a contracted employee and anything they create for a client belongs soley to the client and can be displayed and shared at the clients disgression. The artist loses all rights to the work once their services are paid for.

    As for copyright infringement, the artist has no right to the tattoo after the services were rendered, so there's nothing to infringe on.

    Inb4 people start taking contracts to ink sessions

    Yep, the same as being bought out for a song you wrote or produced. You don't get residuals or points. That ? is 100% the complete intellectual property of the purchaser.


    With tattoos its even dumber though considering 99.99999999999% tattoos are not even remotely original.

    That's why we have courts though. If people are settling out of court then they probably have standing and can make a good case.

    It's interesting to say the least.
  • MD_PROPER
    MD_PROPER Members Posts: 1,526 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    jono wrote: »
    MD_PROPER wrote: »
    Copyright laws on Tattoos seems like a stretch... When you hire a tattoo artist they're more like a contracted employee and anything they create for a client belongs soley to the client and can be displayed and shared at the clients disgression. The artist loses all rights to the work once their services are paid for.

    As for copyright infringement, the artist has no right to the tattoo after the services were rendered, so there's nothing to infringe on.

    Inb4 people start taking contracts to ink sessions

    Yep, the same as being bought out for a song you wrote or produced. You don't get residuals or points. That ? is 100% the complete intellectual property of the purchaser.


    With tattoos its even dumber though considering 99.99999999999% tattoos are not even remotely original.

    That's why we have courts though. If people are settling out of court then they probably have standing and can make a good case.

    It's interesting to say the least.

    If these type of lawsuits become common place it would open up a whole other can of worms. Will this mean the estates of Eazy-E, 2Pac, Aaliyah and others could sue people like Game, Drake, etc for having the likeness of their loved ones tattooed on their bodies?
  • rickmogul
    rickmogul Members Posts: 1,961 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    Monetizing is going 2 ruin soooo many products going forward.
  • VulcanRaven
    VulcanRaven Members Posts: 18,859 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    They don't own the player's body so they shouldn't get anything. The player already paid them for their work so ownership should go to the player.
  • BiblicalAtheist
    BiblicalAtheist Members Posts: 15,668 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Options
    The scheming to make free money on this planet is out of hand.