Tyson’s Tattoo

“…In “The Hangover Part II”, the sequel to the very successful what-happened-last-night comedy, the character played by Ed Helms wakes up with a permanent tattoo bracketing his left eye. The Maori-inspired design is instantly recognizable as the one sported by the boxer Mike Tyson, which is part of the joke (Mr. Tyson makes an appearance in both films, playing himself).   But S. Victor Whitmill, a tattoo artist designed the tattoo for Mr. Tyson, called it “tribal tattoo,” and claims it as a copyrighted work…” (Noam Cohen, NY Times).

A tattoo may be entitled to copyright protection. So in order to avoid copyright infringment issues relating to uses of the tattoo, it is recommended for a commissioner and artist to set out the terms on which any work of art is commissioned and later used. A question that arises in this case is which entity gave the  the film’s production company the right to use the tattoo and under what terms…?