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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Skin games

Interesting story in The O this morning about the copyright battle brewing over Nike's use of Rasheed Wallace's tattoo. It seems that the Southeast Portland needle artist who did the work wants a cut of the fee that old Ra has collected for the ad that features the tattoo. (The story wisely quotes a colleague of mine, who weighs in on the subject.)

What next? Barbers saying star athletes can't show their heads without paying a licensing fee? Dermatologists? Personal trainers? Rabbis billing male porn stars for... well, you get the picture.

Comments (5)

2 things struck me about this story.

1) The design the artist used is almost a carbon copy of one of the most famous reliefs from ancient Egypt, a scene depicting the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten with his wife Nefertiti and their 3 children. The only stylistic difference I can see is that the tattoo artist added some flames around the sun. The basic design has been around for roughly 3000 years. Not saying he can't copyright it now, but he needs to back off this idea that it's such an original design, and that he came up with it specifically based on 'Sheed's specifications. Here's a picture of the original--judge for yourself:


2) The artist claims he only charged 'Sheed $450 for the tat, a low price, but it was OK because he expected to receive lots of exposure by having his work on the arm of an NBA player. Now he's suing Nike because they put his art in one of their ads, to be seen by millions of people. So which is it: does he want the exposure or not?

Sounds to me like he sees a chance to make a buck off Nike's bottomless legal fee fund with a settlement. He's probably right.


There are just too many gott-damned lawyers. (I can say that; I know the secret handshake). Jack's right. From now on, all athletes and celebreties will have to go to their tattoo artist, dentist, or plastic surgeon with a farookin' copyright assignment in hand.

I'm guessing Nike's legal staff knows a thing or two about copyright/trademark infringement.

What's that old saying?

"Don't get in a pissing match with a guy who drinks beer for a living".

That tattoo artist better have a contingency fee agreement with his attorney or he'll really be sorry he ever brought this.

I wonder if he has ever tattooed a Nike Swoosh on anyone? Or a TrailBlazers logo.

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