WWE is heading to court over the presence of tattoos in their video games. This news comes courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter as they spoke to Randy Orton’s tattoo artist Catherine Alexander. Her work appeared in WWE 2K series video games and she wanted to be compensated for her art. Surprisingly, the Illinois federal court system actually ruled that this was the case. Now, the copyright infringement case will be settled in court without the entertainment company being able to argue that the art is minimal to the experience of these games. U.S. District Court Judge Staci Yandle handled the decision surrounding the tattoos in question. It’s going to be interesting to see how this shakes out as many athletes have their likenesses represented in games all across the spectrum.
"Whether the Seventh Circuit recognizes this defense to copyright infringement claims is an open question," Yandle wrote. "The defense has been successfully invoked to allow copying of a small and usually insignificant portion of the copyrighted works, not the wholesale copying of works in their entirety as occurred here."
"It is unclear whether Alexander and Orton discussed permissible forms of copying and distributing the tattoo works or whether any implied license included sublicensing rights such that Orton could give permission for others to copy Alexander’s tattoo works," she continued. "Thus, the evidence raises a triable issue of fact as to the existence and scope of an implied license and Defendants’ motion is denied as to this affirmative defense."
Comicbook.com’s Tanner Dedmon actually discussed the initial suit and lays out where this began in the early days of these concerns.
“In the WWE games published by 2K Sports, a division of 2K Games, Orton’s tattoos are faithfully represented and are drawn accurately to represent Orton’s real tattoos,” Dedmon said. “The accuracy of the tattoos is the basis for Alexander’s lawsuit with the artist saying that the two organizations didn’t have permissions to use her designs in the games.”
“Alexander also told TMZ Sports that this won’t be the first that the WWE is hearing of her qualms with the in-game tattoos. The artist says that she brought up the issue with the wrestling organization back in 2009 while pointing out that the tattoos were being used in the games and said that she was offered $450 as compensation for the company to obtain rights to the designs,” he continued. “She declined the offer from WWE, but the TMZ Sports report doesn’t indicate where the discussion between Alexander and WWE went from there.”
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