2K Games is facing a lawsuit over, of all things, Lebron’ James and Kobe Bryant’s tattoos in the NBA 2K games.
Solid Oak Sketches alleges that 2K Games was well aware that they needed to get licensing rights for these athletes’ tattoos, since they contacted them multiple times over it. They offered 2K a licensing fee of $ 1.1 million.
This is no mere nuisance lawsuit. As current copyright laws stand, tattoo companies and artists actually retain the copyright for the tattoos they put on people, unless they sign waivers giving them over.
The NFL Players Association then set precedent in 2014, telling their players for licensing purposes, companies using their likenesses, including for video games, needed to get permission and/or licensing from the tattoo companies that own the tattoos.
This also isn’t the first time this has happened for a video game, and the precedent does not work in 2K’s favor once again. In 2009, tattoo artist Victor Escobedo successfully sued THQ for recreating his tattoo on UFC fighter Chris Condit for UFC Undisputed.
At least, THQ may come out ahead when it comes to the actual fee. Escobedo originally asked for $ 4.1 million, but the courts lowered this down to a mandated $ 22,500, which was the same amount they paid Condit himself.
However, not mentioned here is that 2K has an out they could use, at least in the future. 2K is just as capable of recreating similar tattoos on the players that don’t constitute copyright infringement. All that remains to be seen is how they will actually handle this case now.
Are accurate tattoos important to you in the NBA 2K games? How do you think they should handle this lawsuit? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.