Athlete Tattoo Copyright Issues Are Forcing Games Like ‘Madden’ To Be Less Realistic

12.28.18 6 months ago 8 Comments

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Tattoos, if you’re into that kind of thing, have some very interesting intellectual property rights, if you’re also into that kind of thing. The designs people get inked on their bodies are technically the property of the artist, not the person wearing it around town. And normally that’s not a big deal, but when it comes to digital versions of human beings in video games, well, there’s some legal grey area we’re getting a bit closer to solving.

If you’ve paid attention to this space before you know that some tattoo artists are suing video game makers for compensation after their designs were recreated in sports video games like NBA 2K and Madden. A recent lawsuit involving tattoos on LeBron James, for example, is moving forward. That means we’ll soon have some case law about the issue.

A New York Times report on Thursday went into detail about the copyright conflict,

“Video games are an entirely new area,” Michael A. Kahn, a copyright lawyer, told the Times. “There is LeBron James, but it’s not LeBron James. It’s a cartoon version of him.”

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