Helms’s Hangover 2 face tattoo may violate copyright


UPDATE: Since the article was written, the judge has announced that the injunction will not be granted, and the film will be released as scheduled. That is fantastic, and I applaud the judge for coming to his senses. However, there has been no verdict on the ludicrous accusation of infringement itself, so I feel the article is still relevant. 

[Via Entertainment Weekly]

Last month, Matthew Belloni of The Hollywood Reporter wrote about a lawsuit brought by the tattoo artist who made Mike Tyson’s tattoo (seen above, on the face of Ed Helms) against Warner Bros. This lawsuit requested an injunction which would stop the release of The Hangover: Part II, because the use of that tattoo is copyright infringement due to it being “one of the most distinctive tattoos in the nation.” I didn’t recognize it, so if that is his argument I think he has no legs to stand on. Warner Bros., on the other hand, is taking this a bit more seriously. Yesterday, the company sent two of its top executives, Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing, and Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution, to testify at a hearing which lasted for four hours. It’s very likely that the company will come out on top, and a statement found in their brief perfectly sums up why:”The very copyrightability* of tattoos is a novel issue. There is no legal precedent for plaintiff’s radical claim that he is entitled, under the Copyright Act, to control the use of a tattoo that he created on the face of another human being.” 

I am not a big fan of copyright as it currently exists, and I think there are a lot of problems with the way big companies handle cases of potential copyright infringement. I do like the fact that Warner Bros. understands that there must be some kind of limitations, though. Maybe they can help their colleagues at the MPAA understand that as well.

[Via The Hollywood Reporter]

*I was shocked to learn that “copyrightability” is a real word.