Copyright dispute over use of basketball stars' tattoos

Basketball Dunk

A copyright dispute between computer game developer Take-Two and Solid Oak Sketches is heading for court over whether the use of players’ tattoos in the NBA2K16 game infringes copyright.

Solid Oak Sketches owns the commercial rights to the tattoos on various NBA stars including LeBron James, Kenyon Martin and Eric Bledsoe, after acquiring the rights from various tattoo artists in return for royalties. By recreating the tattoos on the virtual players in NBA2K16, Solid Oak Sketches claims its rights have been infringed by the game's developers.

Take-Two argues that its use is strictly ‘fair use’ and is minimal and non-commercial in nature, arguing that the ‘de minimis’ provision should apply. It also called Solid Oak Sketches an ‘opportunist’ for its attempts to seek remuneration.

Solid Oak Sketches claims to have contacted Take-Two to negotiate a licensing deal before NBA2K16 was released to no avail. The dispute will now be settled in court.

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Richard Jones, Business Relationship Manager for ip21 Ltd.