Can You Get A Tattoo Of A Logo? Is It Illegal?

Have you ever paid a tattoo artist only to realize that he forgot to advise you that you needed permission to display the logo on your skin?  Whatever the reason for the non-disclosure, the question stands Can You Get A Tattoo Off A Logo? Is It Illegal?

Although it is possible to get a tattoo off a logo, this practice has huge risks. There are copyright laws in place, which makes it illegal, especially in the case of Disney character tattoos. A tattoo artist should proceed with caution to avoid facing a lawsuit.

Find out why it is considered unethical to get a tattoo off a logo. What would be the legal implications if you decided to get a Disney tattoo?  Journey with me as we try to gain a deeper insight.

Why Is It Considered Unethical To Get A Tattoo Off A Logo?

Many companies have spent years trying to establish their brand. A logo is their trademark and their identity. Copying their logo without permission means you are infringing on their rights.

Copyright means you can’t copy artwork. The fact that it’s on your skin does not exempt you from the law. Neither does the fact that you are not profiting financially from it. The tattoo artist is indeed getting paid to copy another artist’s work and, in many ways, gain credit for it.

What Does U.S. Law State About Getting A Tattoo Off A Logo?

According to U.S law, a tattoo is a work of art under copyright law. Therefore, they are entitled to pictorial, graphic, or sculptural protection if the work of art is permanently affixed to a human or canvas.

The original artist owns the copyright to that work of art, and as such, he has the exclusive right to control the distribution, display, and reproduction of the work. Suppose you have a Spiderman tattoo, for example. I am sure the tattoo artist won’t expect you to keep the tattoo covered up in public without obtaining permission from the artist.

U.S law considers it a violation of the copyright of the owner’s work. Based on this, both the tattoo artist and the person on which the tattoo is displayed can be exposed to liability damages. The copyright holder can claim damages over 150, 000 US Dollars for damages and lost profit resulting from the infringement.

Although these laws are put into place to protect the copyright of the artwork, the chances are the artist will not expend the time and expense to sue a local tattoo artist. It is also highly unlikely that the copyright holder will petition the judge to remove the tattoo surgically.

Before deciding on a tattoo, you need to consider the legalities of getting a tattoo off a logo. These legalities will hopefully guide you in making the right decision.

Is It Illegal To Get A Disney Tattoo?

Although having a Disney tattoo is legal, it may be illegal for a tattoo artist to tattoo the logo on you. The tattoo artist will need to obtain a license or permission from Disney to use the design as a tattoo. All Disney characters are the intellectual property of Disney themselves.

The Disney design itself is covered by copyright. They also trademark the image of all their characters. Without permission from Disney, you would be violating copyright law. The tattoo artist would have to obtain permission to use their designs.

Court cases are quite expensive and very rare. I am sure Disney will not persecute someone for a single Disney tattoo. The challenge comes when the tattoo artist abuses this power and makes excessive money off their designs.

Are Disney Characters Protected From Trademark Infringement?

Disney is a multi-billion rand company. Walt Disney, the owner of The Disney Group, spent years building a successful brand. The Disney characters themselves have become the trademark of Disney.

Hence Disney has put copyright and trademark registrations into place to protect their brand. All legal requirements need to be followed when requesting to tattoo any of the characters from Disney. These legal requirements need to be followed to avoid infringing on the company’s intellectual property rights.

Disney has a dedicated line to report piracy; in this way, Disney protects its right from its brand becoming diluted.

What Will Happen If The Tattooist Changes The Disney Logo?

As long as the tattoo represents any design of a similar nature, you can consider it illegal and an infringement of their copyright laws. However, in 2008 Disney filed a lawsuit above 1 million rands against a couple in Florida for infringing on their company’s intellectual property rights.

 The case was deemed unfair and seen as a bullying tactic towards a small business; hence the case was thrown out of court. The couple argued that although their designs looked like Disney Cartoon Characters, this was in no way an infringement of the copyright laws, as they had only used characters as inspiration, and the ideas were indeed their own.

If the tattoo artist is witty enough, he might get away with the tattoo if he changes it slightly but still captures the essence of the character. It won’t be considered illegal as a transformation law is implemented. The transformative law requires that you transform or change the character to ensure that it isn’t an identical replica.

After changing the character, the resulting product may be a derivative work. The tattoo artist is then well within his rights, and in turn, Disney benefits from indirect marketing.

Will A Tattoo Artist Agree To Copy Another Tattoo?

If a client requests for a tattoo artist to copy another tattoo, the chances are they will agree to do it; however, there is no denying the fact that it is not legal.

Recreating someone else’s work without any transformative changes is considered an infringement, and artists who value creativity and craftsmanship will not entertain the notion of “stealing” someone else’s design. It is only considered legal when a tattoo artist seeks the original creator’s permission to replicate the design.

Conclusion

You will encounter dozens of artists and tattoo wearers who have no compunction in copying the logos of others and passing it as their own. There are certain stipulations by law for trademark logos that you must abide by when opting for a tattoo.

 It is more advisable to custom design your tattoo. With this approach, you are taking inspiration from the original artist and are still creating your design within the boundaries of the law. It might also save you just in case the copyright police pitch up at your home and ask you to have it surgically removed.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):

References

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