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The jury has found that tattoo artist Kat Von D did not violate the photographer’s copyright of the Miles Davis portrait.

In a recent legal verdict, celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D has been acquitted of violating a photographer’s copyright for using a portrait of Miles Davis as the foundation for a tattoo she inked on a friend’s arm. The Los Angeles jury, after deliberating for slightly over two hours, determined that the tattoo, along with associated drawings and social media posts, did not resemble photographer Jeffrey Sedlik’s 1989 portrait of the jazz legend closely enough to necessitate paid permission. This decision resonated across the board, asserting that the tattoo creation, related drawings, and social media posts all fell within the bounds of the legal doctrine of fair use concerning copyrighted works.

The legal battle, spanning two years, came to a close, bringing relief to Kat Von D, a former star of reality shows like “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink.” Von D, who gifted the Miles Davis tattoo to her friend approximately seven years ago, expressed her happiness outside the courtroom, highlighting the challenging period not just for herself but for her fellow tattoo artists as well.

The court’s decision sets a precedent in favor of tattoo artists, emphasizing the distinction between tattooing as a form of fan art and commercial exploitation of copyrighted material. Sedlik’s attorney, Robert Edward Allen, has voiced intentions to appeal the verdict, contending that the images, featuring a close-up of Davis making a “shh” gesture, are substantially similar.

If the jury had ruled in favor of Sedlik, potential damages could have ranged from a few hundred dollars to $150,000. The legal victory for Kat Von D is seen as a significant moment for the tattoo industry, reinforcing the concept of fair use and providing clarity on the boundaries of copyright in the context of tattoo artistry.

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