As detailed in Part I of this blog post, despite the fact that Canadian courts have not yet grappled with a case related to copyright and tattoos, the Copyright Act and foreign caselaw suggests that copyright very likely subsists in tattoos and that the rights to tattoos most likely reside with the tattoo artists who design and ink the tattoos on individuals’ skin. This copyright can create a host of legal problems for tattooed individuals, particularly public figures whose tattoos could end up on display and recreated across many different platforms. Continue reading for a discussion of some of the options available to those individuals who are concerned about the consequences of not owning their own tattooed image.Continue reading
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PART I: Are Tattoos Protected by Copyright?
Updated October 18th, 2022
As tattoos have become increasingly common, the question of whether copyright subsists in a tattoo and what that means has come to the forefront of the copyright conversation. The deep personal connection that many people feel towards the permanent ink on their skin does not change the fact that the authorship and ownership of most tattoo designs most likely does not reside with the bearers of the tattoos, but rather with the tattoo artists. This fact creates a number of issues that can range from relatively simple problems, such as tattooists being prevented from using other tattooists’ designs on others, to complicated issues, such as large video game companies being unable to recreate accurate depictions of real tattooed celebrities who have given the companies permission to use their likenesses in games.Continue reading