Judge John Hodgman on Cat Tattoo Copyright

Maxine writes: My partner is getting a tattoo of our cat, Mr. Pippin, based on one of my doodles. While I appreciate the gesture, I don’t want my work on him for eternity. Please order him to get a professional tattoo artist to design it.

There are several conflicting rights in play: your partner’s right to modify his body as he likes, your right to limit distribution of your own doodle and Mr. Pippin’s right to privacy. (Just kidding. If cats had a right to privacy, there would be no Facebook, and thus we might still have a functioning democracy.) As a writer, I will always rule in favor of copyright, and as a father, in favor of thinking twice about tattoos. I order your partner to abandon his plan and, furthermore, to get this very judgment tattooed on his arm so that he may bear this mark of shame forever.