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Home | Columns | Dai Of The Dead | Judge Allows HANGOVER 2 To Be Released Into Theaters But Projects Tattoo Artist’s Lawsuit Will Stand

Judge Allows HANGOVER 2 To Be Released Into Theaters But Projects Tattoo Artist’s Lawsuit Will Stand

I know this isn’t exactly horror but it IS a really important case to watch for all actors and film makers alike.

Victor Whitmill is suing Warner Bros. over his copyrighted tattoo design/work being shown in the film without his expressed permission and asked a judge to delay the theatrical release. The judge denied his request, due to the financial blow WB would take, but also stated that she felt Whitmill has a foot to stand on and that the chance of him winning the suit was likely.

The tattoo, in question, is the God awful abomination of ink placed upon the face of Mike Tyson. Apparently, when Mike starred in Hangover, there had been no permissions given as to the use of his artwork in the film. I know what you all are saying… IT’S A TATTOO! One would assume that the person who has the ink placed on their person owns the rights to it.
Not in this case.

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson attends a panel for the Animal Planet documentary "Taking on Tyson" during the Discovery Networks Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California January 6, 2011.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Whitmill owned and retained the copyright to the design/image after it was placed on the boxer’s face, so he is entitled to give permission for it to be used in film.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine D. Perry is also giving this case priority so that it’s outcome will be decided before it’s due for DVD release.

Whitmill stands to gain millions from this lawsuit.

Here is where this concerns us, in this genre.

With this case, it can set new precedence as to what how to handle tattooed actors/actresses when putting them in your films.
It is also something to think about for the actors and actresses when they go to get their ink.

Something like this can be easily addressed by making sure that you use your own design for any possible ink that can be seen on film or having the artist draw something original and give you the rights to the image. This is solely going to be to back your ass up. ( I personally always stress not to pick something off of the wall or from the flash anyway, but that’s just me.)

From the set of DEVOTION. As you can see, I am a PROUD TATTOOED CHICK! Pictured with Alexys Zahn and Greg Ingram (who is a proud tattooed man). Picture courtesy of Alexys' Mom ;)

I would not be discouraged from hiring people with tattoos, in this field you are hard pressed to find someone with a “clear canvas” as we really are very artistic people and express that in many ways, including body modification.
Plus, I think any tattoo discrimination in the work place is bull sh*t.
You just need to be sure that the images that are on your talent will not be a cause for trouble later.

I would say that a good practice to start would be to get tattoo ownership letters from your artists upon getting the ink and asking for documentation upon hiring if the tattoo will be seen.
This may sound a bit extreme for the Indie scene but I know many of you at least have hopes of breaking out of the box and going further. These are things you may want to think about.

As for my tattoos, they are mine. My designs. The only one that is not is the one on my right shoulder and the artist who designed it knows I would bite the tongue out of his mouth should he ever mess with it ;) (I love him, he knows it.)

But, in all seriousness, this case is really pretty sh*tty if you ask me.
I can understand how on one hand, this is the man;s design and he should be entitled to permissions but on the other hand, if you are tattooing something onto someone, aren’t they buying the design from you in order for it to be seen (in most cases)?

This is a discussion, I feel, my tattooist friends of mine will be having soon.
In the meantime, post your thoughts below!



  1. what kind of skum bag tattoo artist would sue over something like that, i’d be embarrased enough to put that tattoo on mike tyson. but regardless, wouldn’t any other tattoist be proud to see their work on the big screen? if he wins the law suit, i guess he can retire from tattoing, becuase i dont foresee anyone breaking down his door for ink. ( chances are no one is breaking his door down for ink. so hes sueing so he’ll have money in his pocket)

    • I would have assumed that because he had it tattooed onto his body, it was his.
      Apparently, the artist is pissed that one of the characters in the film gets it tattooed on his face as well.
      He is suing from a few angles.

      I need to design tattoos…

  2. I thought we lived in a society filled with legal land-mines before but this truly is something to be concerned about. Nothing like this surprises me anymore but it does disgust me!

  3. This is all silly, it’s a freaking Tattoo on a celebrity.. I get so sick of dumbazzes trying to get rich for nothing.. I hate the world!


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