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Opinion: THQ Sued Over a Tattoo – Do You Own the Art On Your Body?

Posted on November 29, 2012 AT 09:38am

In what can only be described as a “sue happy society”, it really shouldn’t shock us too much when someone goes after a big company and it makes the news. But this latest legal adventure involving tattoos and THQ put a lot of food for thought on my proverbial table. I’ll give you the back story, then we can discuss.

Tattoo artist Chris Escobedo has filed a lawsuit against THQ, Inc. for copyright infringement. When THQ put together their UFC Undisputed and UFC Undisputed 3 titles they chose to include the likeness of MMA fighter, Carlos Condit, and represented him as accurately as they possibly could. This, of course, included any notable marks on his body, such as his lion tattoo. While the tattoo lives permanently on Carlos Condit’s body, the argument of the suit is that it doesn’t technically make it his property. The original artwork belongs to the artist, Chris Escobedo, who was never asked for permission by THQ for his original artwork to be recreated then used within the UFC video games. Hence the lawsuit.

Now ladies and gents, I would like for us all to look at the quote below, taken from the source article at

“I would not have agreed to the recreation of the tattoo by an animator,” says Escobedo, who explains that if he had been approached by THQ to license the tattoo, at a minimum he would have insisted on approving the artwork and being fairly compensated.

This is where this article flips from news to opinion.

He wouldn’t let his tattoo art be portrayed by an animator of THQ even if he was asked permission? Sure, he softens the blow in the above quote by going on to suggest that he did have a bottom line. But really? I can understand that the artwork itself is his property; I’m on board. I don’t agree with filing suit over it, but I respect his stand point because art is a very personal thing. Just because someone else is wearing it, doesn’t make it any less yours as the creator. What I don’t agree with is denying the right for a key feature of a person to be displayed in a video game because it was your artistic concept. Your concept, their body? You created it once, but they wear it forever. It seems wrong to me that the person who put it on your skin can demand that that part of your likeness not be recreated. Legally the tattoo belongs to the creator, not the owner who displays it. It’s a very fine line for me on that topic.  I don’t know if I agree of disagree with it, but my opinion doesn’t make what THQ has done any less legal or illegal.

Even though I respect the need to protect your work, Escobedo seems almost selfish to me. Why doesn’t he latch onto the notoriety of  your art being in a game and use it as a selling point? As if tattooing a celebrity isn’t enough of a bragging right to keep in your back pocket, you can add having your work immortalized in a video game to your list of achievements. I would personally see having a creative work in a video game as free marketing, but I also don’t have a head for business. I certainly won’t pretend to understand both sides of this coin entirely.

So what are your thoughts? Is Escobedo in the right for putting his foot down and demanding that THQ, Inc. compensate him for what is rightfully his? Or is the whole lawsuit a bit of a stretch and strike you more as Escobedo being greedy? Please discuss in the comments below. I’m personally on the fence and would love to hear some of your takes on the whole thing.

Source: PRWebs.Com

About the Author: Laura has many varied interests outside of video gaming. Other hobbies and areas of obsession include: hiding her Boston accent, singing, Metallica, The Walking Dead, Iron Man, Green Day, The Boondock Saints, tattoos, Pomeranians, and the paranormal. Follow Laura on Twitter: @DN_VampPMS

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