Who Owns the Ink on your Body? Learn about UK Tattoo Copyright Laws

Copyright Tattoo Laws in UK

Do you know about UK Tattoo Copyright Laws?

Tattoo copyright infringement is not something you hear about often as tattoos are mostly considered outside the realm of copyright issues. Have you considered who owns the tattoo on your body? Have you ever shared your tattoo design on social media for all to see and use? Your tattoo may be a part of your body but this does not mean it belongs to you.

Picture this, you spend weeks/months pondering which tattoo design to get and choosing the ideal tattoo artist who will bring it to life. Your tattoo is finally finished, you’ve paid your tattoo artist and you are totally satisfied with the result. Your eagerness to show everyone through social media or in the flesh is increasing and you just cannot wait to get the design out there. But wait, is it your own design that you wish to share with the world or is it someone else’s work? In this blog post we discuss how tattoo designs infringe on copyright laws and when these laws really begin to affect you.

It’s important to know that every tattoo design is owned by the designer of that tattoo.

According to UK solicitor Michael Coyle, Lawdit Solicitors
“Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, it is likely that a tattoo will be classed as an “artistic work” under Section 4, and therefore where skill and judgement have gone into the creation there will be copyright over the image. This section does not mention tattoos and it is uncertain as to whether it will apply to that of ink under a person’s skin due to the fact that there have been so few cases that have arisen on this area, however, due to the wide scope of section 4 it is possible that it is included.”

By law, the designer of a tattoo is entitled to any royalties every time his/her design is used or reproduced. If you designed your own tattoo and simply used the services of a tattooist to create it, you have nothing to worry about because the copyright/ownership belongs to you. By providing the tattoo artist with your tattoo design you eliminate any risk of infringing on existing intellectual property rights.

Copyright Infringement for Celebrity Tattoos
Due to the sky high costs required for a tattoo designer to protect his/her work, tattoo copyright laws are not considered to be a serious threat. The risk of tattoo copyright infringement is far more real for public figures out in the spotlight where tattoos become known and copied by fans and other artists. It only seems right that when a tattoo gets recognition worldwide so should the artist! You can rest assured that celebrity tattoo artists such as Kevin Paul or Ami James have strong copyright rules in place and enforce these with every client served. High profile cases have risen in the US due to tattoos being used in video games or for commercial use without permission from the artist.

Despite the existence of copyright laws which protect the artist of a tattoo, the cost for a tattoo designer to pursue his/her work and take a claim to court is incredibly high and cannot be afforded by the majority of solo tattoo artists or tattoo shops operating on a smaller scale.

Joint Ownership
According to various case laws there is such a thing as ‘Joint Ownership’ for cases where the client and the tattoo artist design a tattoo together.

What is an Implied Licence?
An Implied Licence is exactly what it seems and ‘may arise where all the circumstances suggest that the copyright owner expected the person to use his or her copyright material in the way that they are going to use it, even though this was never discussed and has not been written down anywhere’. This is most commonly referred to if the tattoo artist deals with public figures where full exposure of the tattoo is inevitable. If immense exposure is unforeseen by the tattoo artist of his/her tattoo art this cannot be considered as an ‘implied licence’.

Did you know?
Tattoos were historically common mainly among biker communities, gangs, criminals and punks. In cases where a tattooist copied another artist’s work, public shaming was the way to handle it. Times have changed somewhat and now ‘more people than not’ love a tattoo!

Learn about UK Tattoo Copyright Laws and visit our UK tattoo artist review site to start your search for a professional, safe and protected tattoo experience. Find us on Facebook at @RatedInkDirectory

By | 2017-11-21T20:27:54+00:00 May 15th, 2017|Ratedink, Trending|0 Comments