We’re not talking about a boring old monarch – we’re talking the King: LeBron James, the 2nd GOAT* and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ best hope of winning an NBA championship.
The video game NBA 2K16 (4 / 5 stars, would play again), features all the big name players and their likenesses, like King James and Kobe Bryant. The game, in what was likely an attempt to have ‘super realistic’ game play, also depicts the players’ distinctive tattoos.
Solid Oak Sketches, a tattoo company, says it owns the copyright in 8 tattoos featured in the game, including some of LeBron’s ink, and should be fairly compensated for the unlicensed use of its copyright in the game – seeking damages to be assessed at trial or alternatively, the maximum statutory damages available under US law, namely $US150,000 per infringement.
In the US, no substantive legal precedent has settled whether a tattoo is entitled to copyright protection. There was a ~real concern~ that we wouldn’t be able to watch The Hangover II due to copyright claim by a tattoo artist, upset that the Mike Tyson facial tattoo he designed was copied onto Ed Helms’ face, however the case ultimately settled - not before a US District Court judge opined that the artist had a ‘strong’ chance of winning his case.
In Australia, no court has determined whether copyright subsists in a tattoo. But, gosh, when it happens we hope it relates to Justin Bieber’s eagle tattoo that he got in Sydney. We’re Beliebers.
For our 2 cents, an original tattoo is a piece of art which is protected by copyright like any other creative work. The fact that it's drawn on a bicep/pec/neck/face/let's not go there shouldn't affect the legal rights of its creator.
So there you go. This wasn’t an excuse to look at ESPN.com all morning, we swear.