Saturday, October 22, 2022

Cover Me

Authors cannot copyright titles, but one always has to be a little careful when the title belongs to a song: sometimes the song consists of very few lyrics apart from the title. I would not say that that applies to Mr. Springsteen's "Cover Me".

"Cover Me" has an astounding variety of meanings, including copulation in an animal husbandry context... well, perhaps not with the "me" unless one is thinking of Pasiphae, the Minotaur's mother.

When it comes to cover art, there is another wrinkle on the horizon if an author wants to license an image of a cover model who happens to have tattoos. The tattooed model might not own the copyright to certain, decorated portions of his own skin, and the author and publisher might find themselves exposed.

In 2011, the lawyers of Proskauer Rose LLP wrote about the use of Mike Tyson's face tattoo, which was duplicated onto another actor's face in Hangover II, and a lawsuit for copyright infringement (because of the copying without the permission of the tattoo artist).

Legal blogger Brandon W. Clark of McKee Voorhees & Sease, PLC discusses the revival in legal circles of the question "who owns the copyright in a tattoo" as a tattoo artist recently prevailed in a copyright infringement lawsuit that went to trial, and the jury found in her favor.

Follow the filewrapper link for a thorough analysis, including six photographs, and great advice.

For the recipient of a tattoo, they should make sure to agree with the artist before the art work commences about the rights, and to sign an assignment of rights. For photographers, artists, authors and publishers, they should ask to see the copyright assignment document, and probably obtain an assignment of their own before publishing the cover art... or else, perhaps, not include the tat in the cover art,

All the best,


  1. Anonymous10:20 AM EDT

    Wow, getting a tattoo has never seemed so complicated before. Good to know!

  2. Wow, getting a tattoo has never seemed so complicated before. Good to know.