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NBA 2K Video Game Sued for Using Players' Tattoos With Permission

I never knew one singular company owned the rights to the tattoos that are on NBA players' bodies. 

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, the company that owns the rights to tattoos on NBA players is suing the makers of NBA2K for “graphically representing those tattoos on NBA players without its permission.”

Solid Oak Sketches filed suit on Monday in New York federal court, saying that particular tattoos depicted on players in the recent game NBA2K16 was the company’s copyrighted work.

The eight infringed-on designs include a child’s portrait and script scrolls with clouds and doves on LeBron James’ forearms and butterflies on Kobe Bryant’s arm.

Solid Oak Sketches got the copyrights to most of the tattoos last year and, as evidenced by exhibits submitted in the lawsuit, had written letters to the video game company to make an arrangement so that the tattoos could be used in the game. Solid Oak offered to Take-Two a license to the tattoos for $1.1 million.

“It’s clear that they knew that this was something that was to be negotiated,” said Darren Heitner, whose firm, Heitner Legal, is co-representing the plaintiff.

Calls placed to representatives for Take-Two Interactive were not immediately returned.

Another artist, Victor Escobedo, was awarded $22,500 for his lion tattoo that was portrayed on UFC fighter Carlos Condit without his permission in THQ’s “UFC Undisputed” game. Escobedo was looking for $4.1 million.

The NFL was ahead of the curve, making players sign waivers to have their tattoos shown on Madden.

-- Glenn Erby

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