Usually, it's the companies that win lawsuits filed against individuals. But, in a surprising and very welcome turn of events, Take-Two Interactive just took a big loss against a tattoo artist.
Catherine Alexander's case started in 2009. At the time, the tattoo artist offered Take-Two a licensing deal for her artwork on the WWE wrestler, Randy Orton. Take-Two didn't agree and offered Alexander $450 to use the tattoos. Despite Alexander's refusal, Take-Two still used the tattoos she'd inked and that was when she decided to bring the matter to court.
The ruling of the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois was firmly in Alexander's favor. As a result, Alexander was awarded $3,750.
The relatively small sum is because the court didn't find enough evidence that the games' profit came from the tattoos. But, artists should still celebrate that the courts ruled that the appearance of the tattoos in WWE 2K16, WWE 2K17, and WWE 2K18, are not subject to fair use. This incident might not necessarily pave the way for future artists to sue companies for failing to ask for permission to reproduce their art, but it is a good start.
As games become more realistic, it becomes important for the developers to ensure it isn't infringing on copyrighted works. Because of Alexander, Take-Two and other companies will have to double check if the tattoos of an individual athlete are covered under copyright. If they are, the companies will have to compensate the artist behind the work. If not, a future lawsuit might involve a more significant payout for the aggrieved artists.
In other news, Take-Two Interactive started peeling back the layers off of its stacked lineup of games through 2025.