Tattoo artist wins copyright claim for ink


Kannon the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy

TOKYO (majirox news) — A Tokyo tattoo artist has won a Tokyo District Court battle after judges ruled July 29 that a copyright applied to his work.

Hirokatsu Kimura, 49, was awarded 480,000 yen ($6,228) in compensation after the court ruled that Tokyo-based publisher Hon-no-izumi Co. had published a picture of one of Kimura’s tattoos of Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, without his authorization, violating his copyright over the work.

“The work expresses emotions and creativity, “the court ruling said. “It can be called a copyright work. Composition and the Buddhist image display creative work and techniques.”

Kimura had sued Hon-no-izumi over the Kannon tattoo he had given a Chiba man in 2001, based on a photo the man showed him of the goddess. In 2007, the Chiba man published a book through Hon-no-izumi, using a photo of his tattoo in sepia on the cover but without Kimura’s permission, prompting the tattoo artist to sue.

The court sided with Kimura, adding that Hon-no-izumi also had no right to publish the picture in sepia instead of color without the copyright holder’s permission.

The court dismissed the publisher’s claims that it had merely published a picture of the tattoo and had not violated any rights.

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