February 17, 2005 | By Donna Wentworth

Tattoo Artist Sues NBA Star for Copyright Infringement

rasheed.jpgBack in the day, a tattoo artist quite rationally saw your tattoo as a free advertisement for his art. Not anymore. According to this AP story, the man who put a tattoo on the right arm of Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace is suing to stop Wallace from "displaying" his artwork in ads for Nike basketball shoes. Wallace reportedly paid the artist, Matthew Reed of TigerLilly Tattoo and DesignWorks, $450.00 for the tattoo -- but evidently that wasn't enough. Reed told the Associated Press he "expected to benefit from the exposure."

Over the past year we've unfortunately witnessed some absurd examples of copyright overreaching, from attempts to extort online animators for parodying folk songs to efforts to ban video game players from pretending to be superheroes -- and now the suggestion that athletes should cover their tattooed arms if they wish to avoid lawsuits. Rarely has the need to defend fair use been so vividly illustrated.

For more examples of such overreach, check out the definitive reference tome, David Bollier's Brand Name Bullies.


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