S. Victor Whitmill a prolific tattoo artist (check out his hell tiki sleeve), has filed a lawsuit against the studio behind the sequel to The Hangover, claiming that film-makers have illegally reappropriated his artwork. Which artwork? Mike Tyson's face.
"Warner Bros Entertainment – without attempting to contact Mr Whitmill, obtain his permission, or credit his creation – has copied Mr Whitmill's Original Tattoo and placed it on the face of another actor," notes his court papers. "This unauthorised exploitation of the Original Tattoo constitutes copyright infringement." Attached to the lawsuit is a copy of his copyright registration for the so-called "Original Tattoo," along with a release form signed by Tyson at his Las Vegas studio in 2003, granting rights to the design.
Copyrighted works are copyrighted works, no matter what they are painted on or created with. The tattoo on the Helms character in the Hangover film appears to be a direct comedic reference to Tyson. Will Warner Bros use the parody defense?
What's scary for the studio here is the request for an injunction to stop the movie's release at the end of May, the move was planned to open on Memorial Day weekend, a big-ticket weekend.