Take-Two Wins Trial Over NBA 2K Tattoo Copyrights
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Take-Two Wins Trial Over NBA 2K Tattoo Copyrights

Nathan Lees
Nathan Lees

If you’re a fan of basketball video games, you’ve probably played NBA 2K at some point. Developed by 2K Games, a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, the game is known for its realistic portrayal of NBA players, including their tattoos. But did you know that the use of these tattoos has sparked a legal battle between Take-Two and tattoo artists?

Recently, Take-Two emerged victorious in a trial brought by tattoo artist Jimmy Hayden, who claimed that his designs on basketball star Lebron James were used without proper compensation in NBA 2K. However, an Ohio jury sided with Take-Two, stating that the company had an implied license to depict James’ tattoos based on their agreement to use his likeness in the game.

This decision is significant not only for Take-Two but for the entertainment industry as a whole. It establishes a precedent for the use of tattoos in video games and clarifies the rights of tattoo artists in such cases. Take-Two’s attorney Dale Cendali emphasized the importance of the ruling, stating that it will reassure anyone concerned about the rights to their tattooed artwork.

Hayden, who has worked with other NBA stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Kyrie Irving, initially filed the lawsuit in 2017, claiming that Take-Two’s depiction of his tattoos infringed his copyrights. This case mirrors a previous legal battle in which a federal jury awarded a tattoo artist damages for the unauthorized use of their designs in WWE 2K games.

While the amount awarded in these cases may seem modest, they represent a victory for tattoo artists seeking to protect their work in the digital realm. The verdict in favor of Take-Two sends a message that implied licenses can apply to tattoo designs used in video games, safeguarding the freedom of developers to include these elements in their games.

This is not the first time Take-Two has faced legal challenges over tattoo designs in its games. In a previous lawsuit brought by tattoo company Solid Oak Sketches, the court ruled in favor of Take-Two, citing an implied license stemming from player likeness rights included in the NBA deal.


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