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Inking Cultures: Authorship, AI-generated art and copyright law in tattooing.

Stockton-Brown, M., 2023. Inking Cultures: Authorship, AI-generated art and copyright law in tattooing. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. (In Press)

Full text available as:

s11196-023-10024-z.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


DOI: 10.1007/s11196-023-10024-z


This article considers current advances in tattooing that are challenging communityheld views of authorship and ownership, and the need to address this tension. The key challenge is from AI-generated artworks being used as tattoo designs, but the authorial role of the tattooist is also challenged by body art projects such as tattoo collection. Legal clarity for tattooing is lacking, and in addressing this, this article advocates for an open, community-based form of shared copyright ownership and authorship for projects as tattoo collecting, drawing on Dusollier’s and Mendis’ work. This article contributes to both copyright and cultural heritage legal scholarship, and to tattooing scholarship and the tattooing community. AI-generated art being tattooed on people has not been explored in the literature to date, and this article flls this gap. Furthermore, this article contributes a pilot study of the tattoo community’s views on AI-generated tattoos, which is currently lacking from the scholarly debate on AI-generated art. This article argues that the debate within the tattoo community about AI-generated art being used in tattoos needs to be addressed within the community through agreed extra-legal norms, which may well depart from how copyright law decides to approach AI-generated art globally. This article also asserts that AI should not be regarded as the “author” of tattoo works in the traditional copyright sense, as only a human tattooist can draw from a number of cultural, textual, audiovisual and visual, cultural folklore, history and mythical references in creating their tattoo designs, as well as drawing on the client’s personal stories. This article explores the following: (i) an understanding of tattooing as an artform; (ii) tattoos in UK copyright law; (iii) an exploration of the authorial role of the tattooist within tattooing; (iv) the authorial role of the tattooist within tattoo collecting; (v) AI-generated tattoos—perspectives from the tattoo community, through a pilot study of YouTube videos and viewer comments about this; and (vi) a consideration of whether copyright legal reform is the solution for the tattooing community.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Copyright law; Tattoo; Authorship; AI; Cultural Heritage
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:38726
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:29 Jun 2023 16:17
Last Modified:29 Jun 2023 16:18


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