Saturday, May 21, 2011

Take it Off!? Tattoos and Copyright Infringement via the Human Body: The Strange Case of Warner Bros., Hollywood, Mike Tyson and S. Victor Whitmill, Tattoo Artist

"Be careful what you have tattooed on your body and what you do with it" might be the motto for The Hangover Part II (make sure you see the video at that link!), a Warner Brothers movie that "parodies" (or not) a Mike Tyson tattoo, a use which has resulted in a copyright infringement action, with "fair use" being raised as the defense. You will see the use of the tattoo in the video clip.

Noam Cohen at the New York Times discusses the suit in a delightful article on copyright infringement and tattoos at Replica Tyson Tattoo in New Movie Draws Artist’s Lawsuit - or - just because it is on your body does not mean you own it. Cohen asks:
"If a tattoo clearly violates copyright — say, exactly reproduces a Keith Haring drawing or an Annie Leibovitz photograph without permission — could a court order it removed?"
"Take it off" as a rule of law?

Intellectual property at its best -- or worst -- depending on where you stand.

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