Take-Two Wins Lawsuit Over Depicting LeBron James' Tattoos in NBA 2K

Published: March 27, 2020 5:27 PM /


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Tattoos have always been a source of discussion in football, basketball, and sports video games in general. One debate laid in whether athletes selling their image rights included these tattoos or do they belong as per copyright laws to their artist. The recent ruling in Take-Two's lawsuit against Solid Oak Sketches, the tattoo studio responsible for inking NBA superstars LeBron James, Kenyon Martin, and Eric Bledsoe.

Understandably, the most valuable asset in this conversation was LeBron James, and his comments on the matter were mainly on his rights and freedom as an individual and athlete to sell his license and likeness to studios like Take-Two, which understandably includes his tattoos.

The judge ruled in favor of Take-Two against Solid Oak Sketches, referencing the studio's work is featured only on three players out of the 400 players available in NBA 2K's roster. The court didn't feel the evidence provided warrants the removal or limiting the depiction of these tattoos in one way or another.

The Tattoos only appear on the players upon whom they are inked, which is just three out of over 400 available players. The undisputed factual record shows that average game play is unlikely to include the players with the Tattoos and that, even when such players are included, the display of the Tattoos is small and indistinct, appearing as rapidly moving visual features of rapidly moving figures in groups of player figures. Furthermore, the Tattoos are not featured on any of the game’s marketing materials.

The court continues to justify its ruling comparing the size of the tattoos in real-life to their size on-screen in the video game, alongside referencing NBA 2K's fast-paced gameplay which limits the player's ability to focus on the players' tattoos specifically.

When the Tattoos do appear during gameplay (because one of the Players has been selected), the Tattoos cannot be identified or observed. The Tattoos are significantly reduced in size: they are a mere 4.4% to 10.96% of the size that they appear in real life.

What do you think of this ruling? Think it is fair? Let us known in the comments below!

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