Who owns the tattoo on your body?

Posted at 12:18 PM, Mar 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-13 22:24:08-04

It's your tattoo, but who owns it? That's the question many people are asking after a controversy surrounding tattoo art and its use off of your skin.

Local tattoo artists are taking a stand against a popular video game, NBA2K, which depicts athletes in life-like ways, right down to the ink on their arms.

Tempe tattoo artist Mark Walters owns Living Canvas Tattoos and says the once-blurry lines on using their art are getting clearer.

"People get this weird assumption that because I've tattooed it on them, they own it. They don't," Walters says. "They own their body and they own the right to wear that, but it's still mine. I have the design in my drawer...I have the original artwork."

Because many artists feel the same way, the game is now being sued for copyright infringement. They say developers have duplicated their artwork and they're not being compensated for it.

Jonathan Frutkin, an attorney with Frutkin Law Firm agrees.

"You can't reproduce that tattoo--you don't own it," Frutkin says. In some cases, there can be special agreements between tattoo wearers and the artists that decide otherwise, though.

In many cases, celebrities get personalized, one-of-a-kind art created for their tattoos, which are much more than just a design picked off the tattoo parlor gallery walls.

Tattoo artists have won thousands of dollars when video games have unknowingly violated copyrights in the past.