The Copyright Debate - Do You Own Your Tattoos, or Does Your Artist?

It's 2020, we're sure you've heard the term Copyright before (from school projects to big lawsuits copywriting is seemingly everywhere). Copyrighting was created to protect original works of authorship; which includes music, photography, books, videos, art, and even tattoos. Some sources indicate that original tattoos done by artists (not flash art) can be considered the intellectual property of the artist and therefore can be protected under copyright law. This can be a bit confusing though because tattoos obviously become apart of the person who receives them, begging the question - who owns a tattoo, the client or the artist?

Photo by: @markadriane

Does copyright law mean you can't show off your tattoo?

Of course not. You paid for your tattoo and it is very much apart of you. Copyright law doesn't prevent you from promoting your tattoo through your personal social media account or in public, they do, however, prevent the client from commercial use without permission by the artist.

Photo by: @jtylernix

Who is at risk of copyright infringement?

The people most affected by this are celebrities and well-known personalities. One example happened during the copyright lawsuit filed against the producers of the NBA 2K videogames for displaying the real-life tattoos of LeBron James, Eric Bledsoe, and others without first obtaining permission.

What do you think of copywriting tattoos? Fair? Unfair? Comment below!

Cover image by @plqml


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