Mike Tyson's tattoo artist is suing Warner Bros. because he claims that the design adorning actor Ed Helms face in the sequel Hangover 2 infringes on the copyright the artist said he received from the former boxer. Tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill wants to halt the inevitable blockbuster before it's released over Memorial Day weekend, asking a federal court in Missouri for an injunction.
Here's what his complaint claims:
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...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."
Halting the summertime release of Hangover 2 seems unlikely. Yet, it doesn't appear as if the Warner Bros. production team made any effort to skirt a potential copyright suit by adding or removing any part of the original Tyson design. As The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni notes, "Copyrighted works are copyrighted works, no matter whether they are painted on canvases or walls or the bodies of former heavyweight champions."