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EA facing tattoo lawsuit

EA facing tattoo lawsuit

Fri 11 Jan 2013 9:44am GMT / 4:44am EST / 1:44am PST
LegalPublishing

NFL Street angers tattoo artist

EA

EA is facing a legal battle over the cover of its 2004 title NFL Street, with the tattoo artist behind cover star Ricky Williams' tattoo claiming reproducing an image of his design has broken copyright.

“The artwork from which the tattoo on Mr. Williams' right and left arms was created is original ... and is copyrightable subject matter,” alleged the complaint.

1

The NFL Street box art

“Electronic Arts … has copied, reproduced, distributed, adapted and/or publicly displayed [Allen's] copyrighted work without the consent, permission or authority of [Allen] thereby directly infringing [Allen's] copyright.”

Stephen Allen, the tattoo artist, became aware of the box art in 2010, six years after the game was released. As well as suing EA for a share of the revenues earned by the game, he is also suing the tattoo's owner Williams, a former Miami Dolphins running back .

In 2011 a similar case arose over boxer Mike Tyson's infamous facial tattoo, after the design was featured in the film Hangover 2. In that case tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill settled with Warner Bros out of court.

11 Comments

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
Isn't this just a work for hire? Seems like everyone's work is copyrightable these days. I'm charging all the people who end up on medication copyright for using my work from now on!

Posted:A year ago

#1

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 606 1.1
My guess is it depends on who designed the tattoo. If it was William's design and Allen just did the work, i don't think this holds merit. If Allen designed the tattoo and it is a unique thing, then it can be a relevant case. My guess is Allen just looks for an out of court settlement as well.

Posted:A year ago

#2

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
Does this mean that anyone getting paid to appear on tv and wearing glasses from some known brand is allegedly infringing a copyright and should have asked permission first? x_x

Posted:A year ago

#3

Damian Connolly
Lead Development Engineer

3 1 0.3
Williams is a pro football player, so surely he would have already appeared on tv with the tattoo, yet the artist is claiming copyright infringement *now*?

Posted:A year ago

#4

Martyn Hughes
Managing Director

9 0 0.0
Would this also apply to musicians who have tattoos and appear on album covers etc, or actors who appear on DVD covers, not to mention promotional videos etc...

Posted:A year ago

#5

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
This is stupid... Its a work for hire, you made a tattoo on another persons body, That person can later modify the tattoo or do whatever he wants with it. I feel as in the case with a Tattoo you are giving the perso your artwork, you hold no rights over it and each tattoo is catered towards the persons likes and dislikes. A seriouse overhaul to the copyright law should be made. Im an artist and if I made a tattoo Id be ok with knowing that the artwork is entirely for that person. I mean its rediculouse to sign a tattoo with an artist name. Its stupid to have a tattoo and you cant have pictures of yourself taken anymore because your infringing on some damn copyright.

Posted:A year ago

#6

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
@Rick. I think, if we were to play devil's advocate, the design itself might be able to be interpreted as being allowed to be copyrighted - though I think it's more like fashion where there is no copyright on designs. But when you stick it on a body then it becomes a transformative work anyway since the same tattoo (even if identical - not that they can be) will never look the same in combination with different body types and musculature so any further use (e.g. photos, videos etc,) would be covered under fair use in the US (which obviously doesn't exist in most of the rest of the world).

Posted:A year ago

#7

Marty Greenwell
Software Developer

56 38 0.7
Come on, let's call an egg an egg. This has nothing to do with copyright and everything to do with money.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marty Greenwell on 12th January 2013 7:34am

Posted:A year ago

#8
@ Martin

Yes, if you use a contractor to do work you still need them to sign over the copyright otherwise they legally still own it.

I think the tattoo artist would have a case although that's not the same as saying he would win.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,128 1,038 0.5
Hmm. So, lets say I'm a HUUUUUUGE Ricky Williams fan and got someone to copy that tattoo (I'm not and i didn't). Could I be sued as well for the same thing if i took a pic and posted it online?

Eh, I see this tossed out on its ear if it goes to trial, but let's hold off and see what happens. MAYBE it will end up as an out of court "shut up and take yer money!" signed NDA settlement at best. And wait, it took him SIX years to notice this and to more to file a suit? Guess he's not an NFL Street fan or a gamer with all that tattooing he's doing.

Or not doing, as it's looking like he's wanting a payday plus here...

Posted:A year ago

#10

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
@Rick Lopez: no, no, you can't! you obviously have the license to have that tattoo, but you never actually own it. Let's just hope the real owner never decides he wants to retire part of it from his client... as someone did with the infamous "other os" option...

Posted:A year ago

#11

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