Hangover faces copyright law suit over a TATTOO?!
This is definitely a WTF moment. The film industry has definitely left a few marbles rolling on this one.
Tattoo artist Victor Whitmill sued Warner Brothers Entertainment for the Mike Tyson tatto replica seen on Stu’s face in the Hangover 2. He testified to creating the image on Tyson’s face and argues that he should have been asked permission before the film went on screen. This opened up debates on whether ink etched into human flesh can be subjected to copyright.
Chief Judge Catherine Perry of the U.S. District Court denied Whitmill’s case, but added that the film cannot claim it used the tattoo as a parody because it appeared on Ed Helm’s (the character Stu in the Hangover) face in its original form. The judge scheduled a permanent injunction to take place next month.
The pancake flipped for Whitmill when counter claims said that the art work is in fact a imitation of unique facial tattoos found on the faces of indigenous people of New Zealand. The case could turn against him if this design is found to be a copy of an existing Maori design and not his original work, which he can then not take credit for.
S. Victor Whitmill is an award winning tatto artist and in 2003 created Tyson’s famous face tat. He calls it, “one of the most distinctive tattoos in the nation” and made an agreement with Tyson that he would own the artwork and therefore the copyrights along with it. Whitmill cried copyright infringement when Warner Brothers put the famous design on an actor’s face without his knowledge. The claim is that copyright laws are real people…whether it be on paper or skin a replicated design is a stolen one.
The film, Hangover 2, intended to use the tattoo as a comic reference to Tyson’s appearance in Hanover 1 so a simple coninky dink is not even an issue here. Warner Brothers only fear now is that the film gets the injunction and it has to halt showings.