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Take-Two sued over use of tattoos in WWE 2K

A judge has ruled that a trial will be required to decide whether it constitutes copyright infringement

Tattoo artist Catherine Alexander has filed a complaint against Take-Two over the use of her designs in the WWE 2K series, and the case will be going to court.

Alexander was challenging the use of WWE pro wrestler Randy Orton's six tattoos that she inked, and which have been included in the games without her consent.

An Illinois federal judge gave a partial summary judgment on the case on Saturday, the Hollywood Reporter said, ruling that WWE and Take-Two did copy Alexander's work when they decided to include the tattoos in the games. A jury will now have to decide whether or not this constitutes copyright infringement -- a first when it comes to tattoos.

U.S. District Court Judge Staci Yandle said it was "unclear whether Alexander and Orton discussed permissible forms of copying and distributing the tattoo works or whether any implied license included sublicensing rights such that Orton could give permission for others to copy Alexander's tattoo works."

She added: "Thus, the evidence raises a triable issue of fact as to the existence and scope of an implied license and Defendants' motion is denied as to this affirmative defense."

This isn't the first time Take-Two faces such a case. A similar lawsuit was filed back in 2016, over the use of real players' tattoos in NBA 2K. Back then, the publisher argued fair use, and the judge ended up ruling in its favour.

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Marie Dealessandri avatar
Marie Dealessandri: Marie joined in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.
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