Here is yet another sad story of the timing ofregistrationbiting creatives in the butt. The short answer is that tattoo artists didn’t register the design in tats made on NBA players (including LeBron James) when theymade them, but instead after the first infringement of the tattoosby a video game company. That is, when the players were reproduced in video games, the tats were also reproduced, and since they weren’t licensed by the tattoo artists, the copyrights in the tats wereinfringed. In 2015, after the 2013 infringements (in NBA 2K14), the artists registered the work and when the same video game used the players (with tats) again but in the NBA 2K16game, theybrought suit seeking attorneys’ fees and statutory damages of up to $1.2 million.
The court said the “new”infringements weren’t actually new but rather the game was an iterationof the original one, with the original infringements. Sincethose started before the registrations, boom, statutory damages and attorneys’ fees were barred.
The artists are claiming the actual damages (still available under the law) are still significant, but they’regoing to have to prove up those damages; that is going to be a bear.