Mike Tyson‘s face-tattoo artist has sued Warner Bros. and asked for an injunction to prevent the release of The Hangover: Part II. That’s not the crazy part. The crazy part is that he might have a legal leg to stand on.
S. Victor Whitmill (kind of a regal name for a tattoo artist, no?) claims that Tyson gave him ownership of the tattoo design, and, consequently, a copyright on the work. Whitmill has the docs to back up that he’s the copyright holder, and has a signed release from Tyson.
So, the question that remains is: Did the studio need to get his permission to use the design on Ed Helm’s face? There are two sets of circumstances that would preclude the studio from having to get Whitmill’s permission. The first is if the tattoo was different enough that they could argue it’s just a coincidence. Not likely. Though the designs are VERY similar, this might have been viable if, uh, Mike Tyson hadn’t appeared in the original The Hangover.
The second one is that if they argued fair use due to parody. I don’t know enough about copyright law to weigh in on whether this holds water, but we will see as we creep up on the film’s Memorial Day weekend release. I’m sure some sort of compromise will be reached. I think dragging Ed Helms out onto Hollywood Blvd. during the premiere and executing him should do the trick. (THR)
Then again, I think killing Ed Helms is the answer to everything.