Who Owns The Copyright On A Tattoo?
from the and-what-if-you-want-to-change-it dept
My question is this, if a tattoo artist creates a unique design for a client, then this is tattooed on to the aforementioned client, does the tattoo artist still own any intellectual property rights (namely copyright) over this piece of art? If the tattooed subject were to go on to a profession (I can only think of modelling at this precise moment) where the tattoo was constantly broadcast to the general public, and the designer viewed this to be derogatory to their work, would they be able to litigate!"The 1709 Blog, which posted this question from a reader, also added a separate question:
If the tattooed subject wishes to have the tattoo amended or removed, [does] the tattoo artist [have] any ground upon which to object?Good stuff for a law school exam, I would think. Of course, plenty of tattoo artwork is actually covered by copyright -- which quite frequently goes ignored. But if we're talking about a unique piece of artwork, and no clear assignment of the copyright is made, there could very well be an issue.
It's worth pointing out, however, that this is not entirely a theoretical issue. Six years ago, we wrote about a tattoo artist suing the NBA, because a professional basketball player he had tattooed, Rasheed Wallace, had shown off the tattoo in a TV commercial, and the artist claimed it was a violation of his copyright. That lawsuit settled out of court, however, so we don't have a legal ruling as specific (that I'm aware of... but if there are other such cases, I'd love to know about them!).