The action was filed on Monday in New York federal court by Solid Oak Sketches, which claims to own copyright to several tattoo designs featured on the bodies of NBA stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kenyon Martin, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. Solid Oak is suing Take-Two Interactive Software and other companies associated with the videogame NBA 2K16 for unauthorized reproductions of those tattoo designs.
The question over whether tattoo designs are copyrightable has never been fully decided by a court, as acknowledged in the new lawsuit. Victor Whitmill's lawsuit against Warner Bros. over Hangover 2 settled as has other disputes including one by a tattoo artist, Christopher Escobedo, who inked a UFC fighter and later asked a bankruptcy court to determine the value of his tattoo claim against videogame publisher THQ.
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In this case there was no copyright assignment, Solid Oak retained it. I hope the players have a license to show them. If the game company paid LeBron to appear on the game, do they get their money back?