Do New and Atypical Works Deserve Protection?
Edited by Enrico Bonadio and Nicola Lucchi
Chapter 5: Copyright protection of tattoos
In the United States, artists increasingly claim federal copyright protection for subject matter that does fit within traditional conceptions of creativity. Tattoos have recently emerged as one of the most controversial and publicized forms of expression. Tattoos push the boundaries of copyrightable subject matter due to, among other challenges, the unique tension between protection of art and recognition of the autonomy of the person who will bear that art. This chapter investigates whether modern U.S. copyright law should be more adaptable to the protection of this unconventional form of expression. It examines the requirements for copyright protection for tattoos and the complexities of their authorship. The chapter concludes that copyright law should be interpreted to protect tattoos.
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