LeBron James in full tattoo glory on the cover of NBA2K14.

The rights holders of tattoos on NBA superstars Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and other professional basketball players are suing Take-Two Interactive, alleging that the maker of the NBA 2K video game series and other titles is infringing their artwork. The federal copyright infringement lawsuit accuses the video game maker of copyright violations because it has not licensed the tattoos from Solid Oak Sketches.
The suit is a maximalist approach to intellectual property. But it’s not the first to assert copyright infringement of tattoos in a video game or on the silver screen. That said, all the cases concerning tattoo copyright infringement have settled out of court, and none have come to an ultimate in-court resolution. That’s a legal fact that even Solid Oak Sketches notes in its lawsuit.
“The issue of tattoo copyrightability has yet to be decided upon in court due to numerous settlements preventing a final judicial opinion,” the rights holder noted in its filing.
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