Tokyo Chihosaibansho Minji Dai 40-bu

Heisei 21 (Wa) no. 31755 (2011)

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Tokyo Chihosaibansho Minji Dai 40-bu

Tokyo District Court, 40th Civil Division
Heisei 21 (Wa) no. 31755 (2011)

Facts

A tattoo artist (plaintiff) inked a tattoo on an author (defendant) who went on to write a book in which the personal significance of the tattoo—and the author’s ultimate regret for getting it—were extensively discussed. The book’s references to the tattoo artist were not particularly negative in nature. The tattoo was based on a photograph of a statute of an 11-faced goddess, though the tattoo artist made some aesthetic changes, including a softening of the deity’s facial features. Prior to publication of the book, the tattoo artist published photographs of the tattoo in various magazines and online. Later, an altered photo of the tattoo appeared on the front cover of the book, the inside cover of the book, and online advertising for the book without the tattoo artist’s permission. The tattoo artist brought an infringement suit against the author and the book’s publishing company (defendant), which responded by challenging the tattoo’s eligibility for copyright protection. The tattoo artist also alleged infringement of his right to make the work public, his right of attribution, his right to integrity, and his right to privacy.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Okamoto, Sakamoto, Terada, J.J.)

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