Copyright and Mike Tyson’s Tattoo

Interesting developments in the silly side of copyright: (via BoingBoing) Warner Bros. Sued For Using Mike Tyson’s Tattoo in New Movie

The tattooist who decorated boxer Mike Tyson’s face is suing Warner Bros. on allegations the studio is misappropriating that tattoo for its upcoming movie, The Hangover Part II.

Victor Whitmill, who tattooed the left side of the face of the former heavyweight champion in 2003, and has copyrighted the work, (.pdf)  is demanding a federal judge block the tattoo from being shown in marketing and in the comedy film itself. The federal lawsuit, filed in Missouri on Friday, claims the movie features a “virtually exact reproduction” of the original, which appears on the Stu Price character played by actor Ed Helms.

The copyright tattoo is a fascinating subject. In particular the question of who is the copyright holder. In a similar vein read Jordan Hatcher’s (2005) paper Drawing in Permanent Ink: A Look at Copyright in Tattoos in the United States and the slides & The 1709 Blog recently (April 2011) had an interesting post on the topic Tattoos and moral rights: a couple of points to ponder.

Update: There is an interesting discussion on Mike’s tattoo over at the Freakonomics blog.

But is it art?

This is just plain silly. The Telegraph reports that a convict who may get the death penalty has agreed that if he is sentenced to death he will give his body to art. The body will be deep-freeze-dried and turned into fish food. Visitors to the exhibition will then be able to feed goldfish with the ex dead con.

The artist says:

“ is not his story that is as important for me as the system that exists in a society such as America’s in such a vulgar and primitive way, the system, of killing people like this. I wanted to raise awareness of the fact there are people killed legally in our Western civilisation.”

Is it only me or does this all just feel like a publicity stunt to increase the ego, reputation and through this economic value of the artist?

photo Secret Life of Wanda by tomanthony (CC by-nc-nd)

but did anyone ask what the fish want?