Home Take-Two victorious in lawsuit with LeBron James’ tattoo artist

Take-Two victorious in lawsuit with LeBron James’ tattoo artist


  • Take-Two Interactive wins lawsuit brought by tattoo artist Jimmy Hayden over LeBron James' tattoos in video games.
  • Jury rules Take-Two's license to depict LeBron's likeness for games includes his tattoos.

Take-Two Interactive has won a lawsuit brought against them by tattoo artist Jimmy Hayden. Hayden claimed that Take-Two infringed on his copyright when they recreated basketball legend LeBron James, who Hayden has tattooed.

The jury determined that Take-Two’s license to reproduce LeBron’s likeness for their games implicitly included his tattoos, reports Reuters. They found that Cleveland-based Hayden’s rights had not been infringed.

Speaking to Reuters, Dale Cendali, the attorney representing Take-Two called the decision important for the entertainment industry as well as “anyone who has ever gotten a tattoo and might have otherwise worried about their freedom to share their bodies with their tattoos.”

Hayden first brought his action against Take-Two in 2017 but amended the complaint in 2019 to argue copyright infringement. LeBron was not a part of the lawsuit.

Take-Two’s defense was that LeBron did not need permission from Hayden to license his image, including his tattoos, claiming that their agreement with the NBA to use the player’s image included the rights to depict the tattoos.

Take-Two has defended itself in tattoo reproduction lawsuits before

Take-Two has a checkered history when it comes to depicting players and all their inked glory. In 2016, tattoo studio Solid Oak Sketches (who acquired the copyright to the tattoos in question) alleged that Take-Two’s reproduction of tattoos on LeBron and Kobe Bryant. Take-Two won this case in 2020, arguing that it was fair use.

However, a judge awarded $3700 in damages to tattoo artist Catherine Alexander in a different case against Take-Two in 2022 after they failed to show their reproduction of Randy Orton’s tattoos in the WWE 2K series was also fair use.

Since 2014, the NFL Player’s Association has required players to receive a waiver from artists to ensure that there will be no legal backlash if a game or other media wishes to reproduce their likeness. As this issue continues to be relevant to game developers and tattoo artists alike, other sports organizations may begin to encourage their players to do the same.

Take-Two is also in the news after recently announcing that they will be laying off around 5% of their staff and cancelling several on-the-go projects.

Featured image credit: Take-Two Interactive

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Ali Rees
Tech journalist

Ali Rees is a freelance writer based in the UK. They have worked as a data and analytics consultant, a software tester, and a digital marketing and SEO specialist. They have been a keen gamer and tech enthusiast since their childhood in are currently the Gaming and Tech editor at Brig Newspaper. They also have a Substack where they review short video games. During the pandemic, Ali turned their hand to live streaming and is a fan of Twitch. When not writing, Ali enjoys playing video and board games, live music, and reading. They have two cats and both of…

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