If it Mike Tyson’s tattoo artist has anything to say on the matter, The Hangover 2 won’t make it to theaters and into your eyeballs anytime soon. Of course he won’t have shit to say on that matter, but he will probably get a nice juicy settlement from all the noise he’s going to make.
According to THR, S. Victor Whitmill is the original creator of the tattoo, retains copyright of the design, and has filed for an injunction to halt the release of the sequel to one of the biggest comedies of all time.
“When Mr. Whitmill created the Original Tattoo, Mr Tyson agreed that Mr. Whitmill would own the artwork and thus, the copyright in the Original Tattoo,” argues the complaint, filed Thursday in federal court in Missouri and obtained by THR. “Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.—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…This unauthorized exploitation of the Original Tattoo constitutes copyright infringement.”
The thing is, there’s certainly enough of a case here that WB will pay something out to the guy to placate him. However, there’s no way they couldn’t argue for a larger context for the copyright of the design, considering it has become so iconic purely in association with Mike Tyson. All that said, I’m no fucking lawyer and it’s a dangerous thing to make assumptions about how things like this will go. Smart money’s on the multi-national billion dollar corporation though, with side odds that yeah, the case is legit enough that Whitmill will skate off with some cash to ink faces another day. And with the design plastered all over the trailers and posters, I would imagine even his hush-money check would still make most of us shit pants.
IF the injunction is successful and IF a settlement doesn’t work then there’s a chance The Hangover II won’t make it out on its memorial day release date until the case is taken care of. The fact that there is even the risk of this is truly ridiculous, as one always assumes the lawyers on films of this scale have dotted every possible “i” and crossed every conceivable”t.” Shit slips through the cracks sometimes, and I guess this time it was something right on the face of the whole thing.
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