Tattoo artist behind LeBron James' ink loses lawsuit claiming his art in NBA 2K was copyrighted

1 month ago 49
A screenshot of NBA 2K20.
(Image credit: 2K Games)

The tattoo artist who inked LeBron James and tried to sue Take-Two Interactive for his work making it over to the NBA 2K games has lost his case.

According to Reuters, Jimmy Hayden filed the suit against the developer back in 2017 before amending it in 2019. In it, he claimed that his work on James being replicated across six iterations of the NBA 2K games was a copyright infringement. Some of his claims were dismissed earlier this year, leaving Hayden suing over two tattoos he'd inked on James.

However, the jury unanimously sided with Take-Two on April 19, agreeing that the developer's right to use James' likeness in the NBA 2K games extended to his various tattoos. Take-Two attorney Dale Cendali said: "The decision is an important decision for the entertainment industry. It is also an important decision for anyone who has ever gotten a  tattoo and might have otherwise worried about their freedom to share their bodies with their tattoos. And it is a good development for tattoo artists as a contrary verdict could have discouraged people from getting tattoos at a time when the art form is flourishing." 

Hayden isn't quite done yet though, as he still has a separate lawsuit running regarding his work making an appearance in NBA 2K21 on players Danny Green, Tristan Thompson, and once again on James. That was put on hold, according to Polygon, until the outcome of this suit was settled. I'm no psychic, but I can imagine his second attempt will likely go much the same as his first. 

It isn't the first time Take-Two has been in the firing line of tattoo artists. It managed to wriggle out of a similar lawsuit in 2020 against a different artist who was suing over their work on James and other players including Kobe Bryant. It hasn't always been so successful at claiming fair use though, as it had to pay out $3,750 to an artist who sued the developer in 2022. Catherine Alexander claimed that her work on WWE wrestler Randy Orton—who features in the WWE 2K series—infringed on her rights.

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Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.  

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