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Skin Deep

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?


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i havent read the article or given the issue much research or thought, but wouldnt the clear answer be the tattoo artist? i think its a very similar situation to the architect - the homeowner may have some say in how the home comes together, and additional rights in modifying that final design as they wish, but ultimately, the copyright in both the plans and the building itself belongs to the architect. granted, it took an amendment to iron out all the kinks (if you can even say they're ironed out) in that one, but i think theres an analogy to be drawn...

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