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  1. #1
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    Question Tattoos and copyrights

    I've been wondering about this for a while and being an avid watcher of the show Miami Ink since it's beginning, it finally happened.

    I recognised an artwork that was going to be tattooed. What is the concensus on this practice ? The tattooer / parlor does make money based on another artist's work. Is *reproducing* the art accepted ? In this instance, Chris Garver worked from the painting of an artist he admires. Most of you know of Mark Ryden and this painting.
    I don't want to start a flame war just was curious of what kind of "street justice" is currently running with tattoo art at the moment.

    reminder : THIS IS NOT AN ISSUE ON PLAGIARISM OR ART THEFT.

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  3. #2
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    I don't think you could get in trouble at a body shop for putting a copyrighted logo on someone's car for the same reason, it's for their personal, noncommercial use.
    None at all, really.... nothing that I've heard of, anyway. Aside from real street justice that doesn't involve hired representatives, but tough guys with brass knuckles

    I've been involved in tattoos one way or another for a few years now, and it's something that I've wondered as well... it seems like if it's simply for the personal/private use of the person getting the tattoo, there's not much harm in it- the tattoo artist is getting paid to render a service, in this case putting a copyrighted image onto someone's body. I don't think you could get in trouble at a body shop for putting a copyrighted logo on someone's car for the same reason- it's for their personal, noncommercial use. They're not actively going out and trying to sell the image to get more exposure or money... until afterwards if the tattoo artist uses the image in their portfolio, which is where it gets hazy to me.

    I think that problems could arise however, if the person who got the tattooo becomes a model for advertising, or something left field like that... also, I'm not sure how legal a lot of the flash (the sample designs) on the wall in shops is, there are commonly many Looney Tunes characters, Batman, Superman, etc. I doubt anything could be done about an individual getting copyrighted imagery, but I could see where lawyers could come into a shop and tell them to take Yosemite with a rebel flag off the wall, and maybe even removing the copyrighted stuff from portfolios.

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  4. #3
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    There is only one problem. If you don't have a license for the tattoo from the copyright holder. Then it's called copyright infringement. The copyright holder could sue you. Here are two possible examples.

    Best case: You just pay some money (at increased cost because you didn't ask before you got the tattoo) for a license to use the copyrighted material.

    Worst case: You pay money (because you didn't ask) and they don't give you a license so the tattoo has to go (Hi mr tattoo-removing-laser or you get something inked over it so it's not recognizeable anymore).
    Not really fun but that's how it works intheory because the copyright holder has the right to not allow you the use of their material. And a tattoo is will most probably not fall under fair use because it's not one of these:
    - criticism
    - comment
    - news reporting
    - teaching
    - research

    Like cotron wrote above: it's not much harm but it is still there and a copyright holder could get evil with laws and stuff.
    And IIRC the copyrighted logos on cars are the same if you don't have a license it could get bad (But like above I don't know for whom but most probably for both). Some of the car decals are licensed (the ads that some people drive around for the companies who made the parts are there to make the mods cheaper). But if you just take some copyrighted work and add it on your car's side you can get in trouble.

    A friend (IP lawyer) explained me some bits how it should work (but I am not sure if it works exactly how I wrote above). But it should be some bit true but is no legal advice in any way because I am not a lawyer.

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  5. #4
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    mario-
    I seriously doubt that anyone's going to be told to remove a tattoo from their body because it's infringement... for example, Shaq has the superman logo on his arm, I'm almost positive DC is aware of this- but if for some dumb reason they didn't want him to have it, they couldn't reasonably tell him to have invasive surgery because a mark on his body resembles their IP. It's new terrain legally, so maybe someday somebody could bring a lawsuit up about tattoos, but it's permanent and essentially part of the person's body after it's done. Suing someone could result in the person counter-suing because they completely have the right to show their arm, leg, whatever in public. Also, I gave the example of the custom cars because it's similar, but it's wrong in that it's not someone's identity or physical appearance that's being altered. There could be a case in that arena, but telling someone how to look or what they can display on their bodies seems like a violation of free speech and expression. It's definitely murky territory. I'm thinking the place where you could act legally is if they have samples available for what can be tattooed, and if those are in violation of copyright law. That would have to be before it was tattooed, though. Every shop that has flash has some sort of Mickey Mouse or Looney Tunes character, so I'm guessing it hasn't become an issue yet. Could be in the future, especially since tattooing is coming out of marginalized popularity and into the mainstream. Once it's in the skin, though, I can't see a valid argument in court about it.

    On the subject of the Mark Ryden painting, I'm betting he could have a case more with the TV channel than the tattoo shop for using his artwork without his permission... unless the lawyers for the network got the stuff cleared first.

    A side note too- most reputable shops have you sign a contract before you get tattooed saying that they're not liable for any future ramifications of your tattoo, that you're getting it of your own free will- basically you can't sue if it ends up bad due to any fault of your own. I'm guessing that there's a line in there saying that if it's copyrighted, they assume you have permission, and if you don't, whatever happens is on your end and not theirs.

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  6. #5
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    I've got some friends who made tattoos which they've made themselves (the motive that is). Anyways, my neighbour did one on his shoulder at a small tattoo place, and a couple of weeks later he saw this guy with the exact same tattoo on his leg.
    There's no money involved in this (except for payment to the guy who tattooed it), but still I wonder if it's legal for the tattoer(?) to take the motive and just give it to another.

    If money was involved, could they take copyright of the tattoo?
    Yeye.
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  7. #6
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    Cotron, I experienced déjà vu feeling reading that first post of yours..
    The superman logo is interesting... I wonder if any Marvel based material would bring in a murder of lawyers. They are quite the protective cie when it comes to IP managment...

    MoreM : Wow what are the chances! Normaly, the original creator of the artwork holds the copyright (and repro rights) the instant they create it. Now in effect, it's another story. Usually artists make it official and register with the copyright office of their choice. As Jason shared MB's course material on copyrights, the laws are not clear cut. It's a very complicated problematic in general.

    _Mario : Yeah well I wouldn't expect the tattoo bearer to be in trouble. I would peruse that the tattoo parlor would be asked to remove the image from their portfolios. But then what happends when someone, such as in the example I brought, brings in the artwork and asks for "that" ? We musn't forget that the 30% (or whatever percentage) modification trick is a myth so...

    Keep 'em comming boys ! I know a lot of you carry ink in your skin !!

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  8. #7
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    Some links:

    The Tattoo Copyright Controversy Written by a lawyer.
    Fighting Back: Enforcing Tattoo Copyright She forced someone to stop publishing his e-book which used images of tattoos by her client.

    Tattoo Artist Sues NBA Star for Copyright Infringement

    Another side to the story written by the artist's friend (scroll down).
    I wonder what happened to the lawsuit. Is it going forward? Was it dropped/settled?

    Tattoo artist threatens to sue David Beckham

    Forum discussion about getting a tattoo of an image from a poster.

    emily

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  9. #8
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    "Tattoo artist threatens to sue David Beckham" That seems kind of messed up that the tattoo artist will sue David if his tattoos are used in an ad. So if David poses in an ad shirtless and his tattoos are not edited out of the picture he can be sued? Seems like a real Pickle to me. Seriously though, I think, think, that since David paid for the tattoos to be done shouldn't they belong to him then? Plus there is the whole issue that it is his body so he should be able to do whatever he wants with it and not have to worry about copyright issues. Anyway the whole situation seems weird to me. I really don't know much about David Beckingham, but since he is a football player, I assume he is pretty famous. So what if a paparazzi snaps off a photo of him on a beach or something and his tats happen to show up in a paper or mag does that paper or David get sued? Also if I was that Tattoo Artist I would be proud to see my work in an ad, even if it is inadvertently. Don't get me wrong though, if I was offered money I would not refuse it. Sorry if I went a bit off topic.

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  10. #9
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    ive been tattooing for 12 years......and i have NEVER dealt with any copyright problems....i mean what are you gonna do?..take the tattoo off?
    it would be different if ,i say...stole a logo and used it on FLASH and then sold my flash to other tattooers.
    tattooing is more like performing in away.
    if i am in the band that plays at the pub,do i pay royalties if i do a cover?...no way...but if i RECORD and sell copies of your song...then of course i pay....

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  11. #10
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    Ah I didn't thought of that knowmind. Thanks for that perspective!

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    i think that with a lot of artist and their art, they get influence from other peoples work and take bits and bobs from them, i mean in my art course in college we're expected to take reference from other artist's work. so i think with tattooing, a lot of pieces are merely influenced by a piece of art, or if its based on a piece of work it may be changed in some way. i think that its similar

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    Quote Originally Posted by lefran
    i think that with a lot of artist and their art, they get influence from other peoples work and take bits and bobs from them, i mean in my art course in college we're expected to take reference from other artist's work. so i think with tattooing, a lot of pieces are merely influenced by a piece of art, or if its based on a piece of work it may be changed in some way. i think that its similar
    No, very often people get straight copies of paintings and drawings... I mean, if you really loved that piece of art so much that you wanted it on your body for the rest of your days, why would you want it to be changed?

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  14. #13
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    good point i guess thats true. but sometimes people go in to a parlous from what ive seen on miami ink with something in mind and give like a reference, and they design something themselves with that idea incororated

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  15. #14
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    This could make the whole situation even more intersting.

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