If you pay someone to permanently needle ink into your skin, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you own said artwork. That fact is what’s at the center of a lawsuit involving the makers of “NBA 2K16,” who used custom ink designs without the artist’s permission in their latest video game. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Take-Two Interactive and Visual Concepts is being taken to court by Solid Oak Sketches over their work, namely the portraits done for LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
The company claims that they tried to license the art for a fee to the makers of “2K16,” who did not pay, but used the designs anyway in their video game. It’s not the first time that the issue of art, skin and property rights have gotten entangled over money. It happened regarding a UFC game in 2012 and also in 2013 over a Ricky Williams tat from nearly a decade prior.
As it turns out, this is actually a pretty complicated issue regarding players likenesses and union regulations. A similar dispute almost affected the release of “The Hangover 2” in 2011, because of Mike Tyson’s face tattoo. The NFLPA suggests to players that they get waivers from artists to use their work to avoid this very problem.
According to Rovell, if not otherwise stated, the design of a tattoo is the property of the person who drew it, not the person who used their body as a canvas.