The Hangover 2 opens this weekend and is sure to make boatloads of cash. Someone trying to weasel his way in on some of that cash? Mike Tyson's tattoo artist, S. Victor Whitmill, who is suing Warner Bros. for copyright infringement because, as you've probably seen in the previews, Ed Helms' character dons the same one as Mike on his face. (Seriously.) The lawsuit, which asks Warner Bros. to cease using the image in posters and in the film itself, reads:
Mr. Whitmill has never been asked for permission for, and has never consented to, the use, reproduction, or creation of a derivative work based on his original tattoo.
Neither have millions of bands, whose logos rest on the forearms of 18- to 60-year-olds everywhere! Neither have lots of things and people! (You know someone out there has a Mona Lisa tattoo.) Your request is insane, Mr. Whitmill, and you really don't deserve a dime.
The judge denied Whitmill's request to shut down the movie, not only because many people would be upset as hell if they didn't get to get their Zach Galifianakis on this weekend, but because ... that request is insane.
I understand that Warner Bros. is technically cashing in on a tattoo Whitmill designed, but it's not like it was the nucleus of the script. It's a joke. In a funny movie. If Whitmill had asked earlier on in the process that they don't use the design, I'm sure they would have complied -- it would have had no effect on the box office. To ask that the movie not be released? That's all sorts of egotistical and crazy.
The Hangover was a hilarious movie that didn't hurt anyone. If anything, it gave Mike Tyson -- and his tattoo artist -- popularity that was otherwise absent (or really poor). I understand that art is art, and people copyright all sorts of weird phrases and things, but we're talking about The Hangover here. And a tattoo Mike Tyson has on his face. Are these things high-brow? No. Do they make for fantastic comedy? Hell yeah.
Grab a bucket of popcorn and catch the flick this weekend, Mr. Whitmill. I think you could use a laugh.
Do you think Mike Tyson's tattoo artist has a case?
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