Copyright and Tattoos: Who owns your ink?
As of 2012, one in five adults in the United States have at least one tattoo. While some designs are simple, many are incredibly complex, original works of art. However, since tattoos are designed to be permanent, and often placed to be seen, the question arises – who owns the copyright to that artwork? And how can, and can’t, the owner display it? Unfortunately, there are no cases to date that definitively answer the questions around copyright infringement and tattoos. With a new case filed by a tattoo artist in April 2018, concerning a tattoo he placed on WWE wrestler Randy Orton, which appeared in the WWE 2K16, 2K17 and 2K18 video games, it is important to determine what we do know about whether tattoos can be copyrighted, and who owns what rights with regard to their use and reproduction.