Video Games Developers’ New Problems: Athletes Do Not Own Their Tattoos

Many athletes today have tattoos on their body on the ground of the body art.
For example, LeBron James put his mother’s name, Gloria, on his right hand along
with some other tattoos like his son’s portrait and area code for his hometown.
Even though those seem to have personal connections, have you ever thought
if those were not truly his?

According to the United States Copyright Office, all creative illustration on the tangible
medium can be touted as copyright. These include the ink on somebody’s skin.
The most fun part is that the copyright is held by the tattoo artist and not the “tangible medium” owner. For many people, it is not a concern. However, it could be a serious
copyright infringement case when the tattoos are recreated on
avatars in video games, digitally.

As a game developer and publisher, Electronic Arts has recreated more than
100 tattoos on their games. One of the most interesting ones is the colorful tattoos
on Lionel Messi’s right arm and Conor McGregor’s gorilla on his chest.
On the other hand, many other soccer players on the game also have ink on their real-life’s skins.
The spokesmen of Electronic Arts left with no comments related to this matter.

This big company should face a lawsuit of copyright infringement for its game NFL Street cover. Also, the issue had been happening since 2013 due to another
lawsuit of Ricky Williams’ tattoos before the artist dropped it.
The case is that not all tattoo artists would drop their lawsuits.
Video game companies may pay the license of copyrighted music.

However, some other costs would arise due to the fact that they have to negotiate
with a lot of tattoo artists to get the rights to the tattoos.
Looking from a business’ point of view, it would be easier and feasible to let the
tattoos go from the game.