Who Owns A Tattoo?

Skull within Moon by Hunter Schuon

It's a pretty simple question with a very intricate answer. Who owns a tattoo? There are numerous ways for art to be licensed, sold or otherwise use d in multiple forms of media and marketing with a fairly cut and dry legal stance. But what about tattoos? On one hand you have a person paying an artist to create artwork specifically for them which would imply that the client purchased the art outright. On another hand, what if the artist used someone else's artwork at the clients request? Would that mean that a tattoo artist or client needs to pay some royalty to the original artist? Most of us know someone who has a character, logo or other intellectual property tattooed somewhere on their body. If you asked the owner of that property, what do you think they would say? There are other interesting areas where tattooing might be less cut and dry than we thought. Take for instance the recent controversy over multiple celebrities and sports stars having their artwork featured in a video game or movie. "The Hangover II" had a run in with Mike Tyson's tattoo artist once it was revealed that one of the characters in the movie would be sporting the same design of tattoo that Tyson wears. In this instance, the legal battle was settled out of court but due to that, a precedent has yet to be set.

This specific example implies that the tattoo design is rightfully owned by the artist who created the tattoo, at least that was the artists thought. I'm sure in the next few years we will see a ruling on this tricky area of law since tattoos have become more commonplace than ever before. Tell us what you think, who owns a tattoo?

#firstclasstattoo #artisticliscense

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