Randy Orton is at the center of a landmark legal case.
According to PWInsider, Orton testified for over three hours on Wednesday in tattoo artist Catherine Alexander’s lawsuit against World Wrestling Entertainment, Take-Two Interactive Software, 2K Games, Inc., 2K Sports, Inc., Visual Concepts Entertainment, Yuke’s Co., Ltd. and Yuke’s LA Inc. According to the lawsuit, Alexander owns the copyright to several of Orton’s tattoos, and the various companies named in the suit infringed on her copyright by copying those tattoos onto Orton’s likeness in various WWE video games without her permission. The other side of the suit is claiming that Orton has an implied license to have his tattoo recreated, and that the use of digital recreations of the tattoos fall under "fair use," in which a copyrighted work can be quoted or recreated in the name of criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, none of which would require the artist’s permission. As previously reported, Orton is not a defendant in this case.
The suit was originally filed in 2018, with the trial initially supposed to take place in June 2020. In September 2020, a judge ruled that WWE and Take-Two did copy Alexander’s work, but refused to offer a summary judgment for either side, as some of Orton’s tribal designs are not subject to the same restrictions as Alexander’s work. The trial was then was moved to February of this year, and is now finally underway.
The lawsuit would set a new precedent should the court find in favor of Alexander, apparently overriding another recent lawsuit against 2K Games in which a judge ruled the company could legally reproduce professional athletes’ tattoos in sports games. If Alexander wins, tattoo artists everywhere could theoretically bring an infringement case against any public persona who has their tattoos recreated in a video game or animation.