Implied Copyright License Defense Shapes Up In Tattoo Cases

Law360 (March 12, 2021, 4:09 PM EST) -- As tattoos and body art have become a $3 billion industry in the U.S.,[1] an increasing number of athletes, celebrities and other public figures are inked. But who owns a tattoo — the artist who designed it, or the person who bears it?

And even if tattoo artists have copyrights in their creations — as courts have assumed but never ultimately decided — do famous tattoo bearers need to obtain consent from the tattoo artists who inked them before licensing their likenesses bearing the tattoos? And would the failure to do so subject tattoo wearers — or their licensees — to...

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