If you're a regular reader of this site, you're probably ready to run away. How much more can this woman talk about tattoo copyright, right?! It's almost a decade of this discourse, from my first article in 2003 on BME -- which was oddly quoted again today in Bloomberg's BNA blog -- to posts on this blog here and here and here ...
But I got so much more to say, and I plan to do it in a hands-on practical way that will help artists and collectors truly understand how copyright and trademark works, how to protect your rights, AND how to profit from your artwork through licensing. And I'll be doing it with fellow tattooed attorney John Kastelic at the wonderful Paradise Tattoo Gathering next month in Keystone, Colorado, September 13-16.
We'll be addressing these questions:
Who owns your tattoo? Is it you . . . or your client?
In addition, artists more and more are finding alternative avenues for
generating revenue from their artwork, image and even endorsements -
this seminar will provide information to understand how to
control the use and licensing of your work and image as well as
understand the issues you may confront and how to be prepared to
maximize your profits and best protect your interests before signing
away any of your rights.
The multi-media presentation will include real world examples, informative handouts, sample contracts, and a Q&A. I encourage participants to submit questions beforehand to marisa(at)kakoulaslaw(dot)com but any question during the seminar will be addressed.
Space is limited so it's best to book your spot now online. The cost is just $175, a bargain just for the sample contracts alone. It will take place 5-7pm Saturday, September 15th.
This morning I received an email from Shannon Larratt (founder and former owner of BME.com) regarding the use of his images -- as well as those from BME, tattoo artists' portfolios and even my own images -- without permission on TattooDonkey.com and TattooMeNow.com.
Read Shannon's FB post on how he's pursuing this.
The sites market themselves as vehicles to help people "find your tattoo design" and "the quickest and easiest way to find your dream tattoo." The problem is that the dream tattoo could be your own custom work. And we all know how I feel about tattoo copyright.
It does not appear that the use of the images on these sites falls under Fair Use -- for example, using an image to comment or critique a work; however, I've been unable to further explore the TattooMeNow.com site without a membership. It seems I have to pay to view my own work.
I've sent a request to TattooDonkey.com to take down my images from their site, and many others are doing the same. I've also emailed TattooMeNow.com to discuss this further. Will keep you updated.
It's perhaps fitting to also mention that I'm doing a seminar on "Copyright, Trademark & Licensing for Tattoo Artists & Collectors" in September at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering. More info here.
I've been called a Harpy. A pariah. A vampire sucking the soul of tattoo culture.
There are probably many other reasons for them, but often the context of such compliments are my writings on tattoo copyright.
During the legal circus surrounding the Mike Tyson tattoo in "The Hangover" film, which later settled between the tattooist and Warner Bros., I wrote about copyright particularly in light of this law suit.
I revisited this case in the March issue of Inked magazine, but also discussed further issues in tattoo copyright. Now that full article is available online for free. [For some reason, Inked decided to illustrate the article with tattooed boobs and butts, perhaps because they thought no one would read it.]
Entitled "Who Owns Your Tattoo?", the title and opening are intended to spark a bit of controversy. It starts off like this:
If you think that you alone have the rights to your own skin, you may be wrong. The idea of another person, or even a corporation, claiming ownership over your body may seem absurd, but as recent lawsuits for copyright infringement of tattoo art have implied, the courts could very well decide who gets a piece of you tomorrow.See what I mean? Harpy-like.
But beyond being controversial, there's serious talk about Fair Use, Work for Hire, Rights of Publicity, and Licensing. [In fact, licensing the artwork of tattooists has been a big part of my own legal practice lately.]
Check out the article and feel free to offer your thoughts via our Needles & Sins Group on Facebook or Twitter.
Tonight, from 6 to about 7:30PM, I'll be speaking on a panel entitled "Tattoos: Fleshing out Copyright Law" at NY Law School along with tattooist Michelle Myles and attorney Michael Kahn (who represented Victor Whitmill, the artist who inked Mike Tyson's facial tattoo and sued Warner Bros. for copyright infringement.)
We'll be having fun discussing the intellectual property issues as they apply or may apply to tattooing, and I'm sure creating some controversy over who owns your tattoos.
For a glimpse into our talk, check my previous posts on tattoo copyright. I'll also be doing a follow up on any new issues we discuss that haven't been brought up here.
The panel is open to the public, so feel free to come by and share your thoughts.
Call it my obsession, but I've been following the Mike Tyson tattoo copyright (almost as intensely as Beyonce's career) because of its potential impact on the rights of tattooists to defend their art from others who wish to profit from it.
For background, see my first post on it (with some general copyright info) here and the update here.
This post looks like my final update on the case because, yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter published the news that a settlement had been reached between Missouri tattooist, S. Victor Whitmill, and Warner Bros. Whitmill sued Warner Bros. for copyright infringement over its use of his facial tattoo design for Mike Tyson, which was prominent in The Hangover II film. The article stated:
The settlement was no surprise. As I predicted in my posts, these type of cases do tend to settle, and it was pretty clear that Warner Bros. would throw Whitman some money after the judge hearing the case had said that Whitmill had a "strong likelihood of prevailing on the merits for copyright infringement" and that most of the arguments put forward by Warner Bros. were "just silly."
While I'm happy that tattoo artists' rights to their designs were recognized, the tattoo law nerd in me wished that this case had been decided to finally see how the courts would rule on the issue.
Again, I fully believe in a balancing of these rights between client and artist -- or have those rights hammered out in advance between them, especially with celebrities -- but in this case, Tyson himself was not at issue. It was Warner Bros. use of the design in the films, ads, and to-be-released DVD.
Will post a link to this post soon on our Facebook page to get your thoughts.
Looks like The Hangover 2 continues to suffer some bad tattoo juju. First, the controversy surrounding who would play the small role of tattoo artist in the film. And now, the tattoo design itself.
Victor Whitmill, who did Mike Tyson's infamous facial tattoo in 2003, is suing Warner Bros. for copyright infringement in pirating his tattoo design "without attempting to contact [him], obtain his permission, or credit his creation"; he seeks damages and an injunction to stop the use of the tattoo in the film--which is essentially a big part of the movie. In The Hangover 2, a bachelor party once again leaves our wacky heroes with no clue of what happened the night before, except for a facial tattoo on the groom Stu (Ed Helms). There's also a monkey. See the trailer below.
Looks pretty funny but the legal claims are quite serious. [Download the complaint here.]
Tattoos. Copyright. The media is loving it. But in so many discussions of the case, there's a great deal of misinformation, so I'd like to break it down as best as I can.
First, when I wrote "The Tattoo Copyright Controversy" for BMEzine in 2003, I approached it like a law school hypothetical; that is, I played with how intellectual property rules would apply in various potential disputes involving the ownership of a custom tattoo design. It was hypothetical because, at the time, no actual cases on record could be found specifically addressing this issue. Well, a lot has changed since 2003. Tattoo artists have sued companies for infringement and a number have received large settlements. Even collectors, like model & photographer Amina Munster [NSFW], have registered their tattoos with the US Copyright Office to discourage other collectors from copying.
The basics behind "The Tattoo Copyright Controversy" still hold in addressing what exactly is copyright and its relation to tattoos. A couple of years later, I updated the article for Rankmytattoos.com and continued to post developments on my old Needled.com blog. So click these article links for more of a general discussion.
In this post, I'm going to break down the tattoo copyright issues in relation to Whitmill v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., (E.D. Missouri), what I'll call:
The Mike Tyson Tattoo Copyright Case 101...