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Who owns copyrights over an athlete’s tattoos depicted in video games?

In the United States, the design company Solid Oak Sketches filed lawsuits against video games developers Take-Two Interactive and 2K Games.

Plaintiff claims that the unauthorized reproduction of athletes’ tattoos in video game avatars would infringe the tattooers’ copyrights. On the other hand, defendants argue that the questioned drawings would be displayed briefly and without clarity, which would not constitute an infringement.

The cases are still pending, but the topic is of utmost importance. Depending on the understanding of the court, video games developers may be forced to negotiate licenses from tattooers of all tattoos depicted in the games or demand that athletes obtain such rights before making the tattoos.

More information availabe, in Portuguese, at