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.