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Tattooist sues THQ for replicating UFC fighter's ink without permission

The tattoo belongs to the tattooist by default.

A tattoo doesn't belong to the person it's inked on, rather the tattooist who inked it. That's the crux of copyright infringement suit facing THQ.

The tattoo - a lion - appears on the midriff of UFC fighter Carlos Condit. An "exact replica" of that tattoo appears on the virtual Condit in video game UFC Undisputed 3, according to the man who inked it, Chris Escobedo (via Bloomberg).

Escobedo did not authorise this copy, and Escobedo apparently holds all copyrights associated with the tattooed art.

Condit's uppercut reveals his lion tattoo.

"People often believe that they own the images that are tattooed on them by tattoo artists," explained Escobedo's lawyer, Maria Crimi Speth (in a comment on PRWeb).

"In reality, the owner of the tattoo artwork is the creator of the work, unless there is a written assignment of the copyright in the tattoo art."

Escobedo said THQ hadn't contacted him about licensing the tattoo, nor would he have agreed to it if THQ had.

Apparently there was a similar dispute not so long ago about the recreation of the tattoo on retired boxer Mike Tyson's face in film The Hangover 2.

All of this bodes ill for EA, now owner of the UFC video game licence. Will some poor sod have to licence each separate tattoo for the game? And if this kind of litigation catches on, what happens with the tattoos adorning the arms of footballers in FIFA? Will the artists who inked those kick up a fuss?

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