The following is a blog written by Marisa Kakoulas, editor of Tattoo World, along with a number of other heavyweight tattoo art books. In addition to publishing, Marisa is also involved in copyright law, and in particular has been narrowing her focus onto tattoo related copyright law. It's fascinating information at a time when these things seem awfully ambiguous.
So without any further delay, I'd like to introduce Marisa Kakoulas:
When I first wrote about tattoos and copyright in an article called “The Tattoo Copyright Controversy” in 2003, it was largely a discussion of ideas with less real-world examples of how the law impacts the craft. There were no high-profile cases. No rulings on whether tattoos could have copyright protection. No lawyers busy handling rip-offs of tattoo work.
So much has changed since then. With the explosive growth of the industry and the co-opting of tattoo culture by the media and big business, tattooists and collectors are fighting more and more to protect their art from being appropriated and exploited without their permission. On the flip side, there are more opportunities for artists in the community to profit from their work with licensing deals -- partnering with other business to create designs for merchandise, media, murals, etc. for fees and royalties that are negotiated to reflect the true value of the art. Developing a reputation, even a brand, for quality tattoo and design work warrants protection as well as, especially in light of unscrupulous shops looking to bank on another’s credibility.
It’s not easy to navigate these legal mazes, but they are important in today’s tattoo world. Since 2003, I’ve written extensively on the developments of these laws on NeedlesandSins.com and for Inked and Skin & Ink magazines. However, I feel the best way to tackle the subject and help artists in a more practical way is to talk face-to-face, answering questions, offering sample documents, and attempting to be entertaining throughout it all.
So, I created a seminar called “Controlling, Protecting and Profiting from Your Work: Copyright, Trademark & Licensing for Tattoo Artists & Collectors.” The first one will take place at the Paradise Tattoo Gathering on September 15, 2012 from 5-7pm. [Space is still available.]
The seminar will begin with the basics: What exactly is copyright, trademark, and licensing? Breaking it down:
Taking these basics, I apply them to tattooing, addressing the following questions and many more:
Who owns a tattoo? Is it the artist or the client or both?
How do you register a copyright or trademark/servicemark?
How can you protect your art from being used without permission?
How can you protect your studio's name, logo and reputation?
How do you protect yourself from copyright or trademark claims?
What are some of the ways you can generate revenue from your artwork and image beyond tattooing?
I’m also happy to field questions from seminar participants and have an interactive discussion on artists and collectors’ perspectives on the law.
If you can’t make it to the talk, but want to learn more, you can check my writing on tattoo copyright linked below:
“Tattoo Copyright Revisited” (includes the link to the Inked magazine feature).
Marisa Kakoulas is a heavily tattooed attorney based in New York. In her spare time, she blogs about tattoos at NeedlesandSins.com and regularly contributes to Inked and Skin & Ink magazines. She’s the author of the hardcover art books “Black Tattoo Art,” “Color Tattoo Art,” and “Black & Grey Tattoo.” She also edited the book “Tattoo World” for Abrams Books. Her book, “Tattoo Law,” is in progress.
Portrait of Marisa Kakoulas by Shawn Barber, as shown in his new book Memoir