Yes, Disney tattoos are legal, but it may be illegal for a tattoo artist to tattoo the logo on you. To do the tattoo, they need a license or permission to use the design from Disney for tattoos, as they would be making money using Disney’s intellectual property.
The design itself will be covered by copyright. Disney will also trademark the image of all its characters. This means without permission; it would violate copyright law if the tattooist doesn’t have a license or permission to use the design.
In reality, court cases are rare and free advertising is good for any company. Unless you are making money from the design, Disney is unlikely to exercise their rights to prosecute someone for a single Disney tattoo.
Why not try a Disney style design? Something done in a Disney style that does not copy one of the Disney designs. Check out the Disney-style designs here for some inspiration.
Can Disney Sue You For A Tattoo?
Yes, Disney can sue you if you have a design without prior permission. In reality, though, it is unheard of unless you are using the tattoo design to make money or promote a product in some way.
A big company like Disney will have a dedicated legal team that is constantly looking for copyright infringement. Their job is to stop other companies from making money from the use of Disney images. It would be the tattooist who would be prosecuted if anybody was going to be charged.
Because of this, some tattooists will refuse to reproduce copyrighted images like Disney tattoos. If the artist you have chosen says no, accept that. Do not try to persuade them; that is them protecting their own business.
Drawing a Disney-style design that is different enough not to directly infringe copyright might be the best solution, and we have a guide on How To Draw Disney Style Characters here.
Is It Illegal To Get A Tattoo Of Something Copyrighted?
Yes, technically, it is. It is unlikely that you would be prosecuted though as I have said above.
Trademarks and copyright law are there to protect the creator of a design from plagiarism. Anyone who copies the designs is in breach of copyright and can be prosecuted. As I stated above it happens rarely. The legal teams of companies involved would rather focus on big infringements that are deemed to be gaining financially from the use of the copyrighted designs.
Who Owns The Copyright To Tattoos?
The person who created the original design owns the copyright to tattoo. Many tattoo designs are what the industry call ‘Flash’ designs. These are standard tattoo designs that are available in many shops. They are created by an artist or studio that specializes in creating ‘Flash Art,’ and they would be the owners of the copyright. The tattooist who purchased them has bought the right to use them.
The tattooist holds the copyright if the design is a completely original design done by them. If you created the design, then you are the copyright holder.
With commercial designs like Disney characters, the Disney studio are the people who own the copyright. Without direct permission to use the design, anyone who reproduces it is in breach of copyright.
Is It Rude To Ask A Tattoo Artist To Copy A Tattoo?
No, it’s not rude, but if the tattooist does not want to do a copied tattoo, then that is their right. It may be that they do not want legal repercussions, or their reasons may be personal.
Whatever the reason, they have every right to refuse to do any tattoo they are not completely happy with. They have a reputation, and that is key to their livelihood, so it is always their choice.
Is It Weird To Get The Same Tattoo As A Celebrity?
I would say yes, but that is just a matter of opinion. This is a subject with many opinions.
In between those two perspectives are the people who want a tattoo to show their appreciation of something or someone. This is where people will sometimes copy the tattoos of a celebrity as a way to show themselves as a fan of the celebrity concerned.
The only thing I will add to the subject is to remember that the design of the tattoo may well be a copyrighted design. If you do want it copied exactly, you do leave yourself open to prosecution.
It is not difficult to adapt a design to make great Disney tattoos. Make it different enough to be individual, but similar enough to evoke the thoughts and emotions of the original design. There is a famous saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”