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Tag Archives: NBA 2K

Tattoo artist files copyright lawsuit over use of Lebron James’ Tattoos in Video Game

Recently, a lawsuit was filed by Solid Oak Sketches, LLC (“Plaintiff”) against various companies responsible for creating the “NBA 2K” video game.[1] The Complaint alleges that the Defendants are liable for copyright infringement over the use of tattoos of professional basketball players in Defendants’ “NBA 2K16” video game.[2] The dispute is over tattoos done by artists on various professional basketball players, such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and DeAndre Jordan.[3]  Plaintiff alleges that it is the owner of the copyrights in such tattoo designs as a result of license agreements with the individual artists.[4]

The Complaint alleges that the tattoo designs are subject to copyright protection, specifically as a “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural work.”[5] The Complaint also notes that whether tattoo designs are subject to copyright protection is a novel issue, yet to be determined by the courts.[6] As discussed in previous blog articles, whether copyright protection exists in “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works” can be a complicated determination.[7] The Complaint seeks injunctive relief and damages, alleging that the use of the tattoos enhanced the value of Defendants’ video games.[8]

This lawsuit raises interesting questions such as whether tattoo designs are subject to copyright protection, and if so, who owns the copyright. A decision in favor of the Plaintiff could significantly alter the scope of obtaining licensing rights and the use of the name and likeness of professional athletes in video games and other media.

Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.

Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.
Shareholder

[1] See, Solid Oak Sketches, LLC v. Visual Concepts, LLC, et. al., Case No. 16-CV-00724 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 1, 2016).
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] See, “Sixth Circuit finds that designs on Cheerleader Uniforms can be copyrighted.”
[8] See, Solid Oak Sketches, LLC v. Visual Concepts, LLC, et. al., Case No. 16-CV-00724 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 1, 2016).