For some, the art of personal adornment reflects mood, occasion, or the latest trend. Others take a more long term view.
But are those who express themselves through body art also at the mercy of knockoff artists? Not necessarily, at least if they're intellectual property-savvy. Check out Amina Munster's tattoos (caution: there's quite a bit of skin involved!) and her copyright certificate.
The concept of body art as intellectual property raises a whole series of questions: who owns the copyright, the tattoo artist or the tattooee? What if the tattoo is also a trademark? How does a unique tattoo affect rights of publicity? What are the plausible remedies for infringement of someone's IP-protected tattoo? For more on these questions, see Thomas F. Cotter and Angela Mirabole, Written on the Body: Intellectual Property Rights in Tattoos, Makeup, and Other Body Art, 10 U.C.L.A. Entertainment Law Review 97 (2003).
And one more question: Should a tattoo be protected only as originally applied or as it, er, morphs over time? (I'm thinking of an individual who opted for a "nice, discreet" flower tattoo around her navel -- before she was pregnant. Let's just say that the bud blossomed.) Any modern art theorists out there?