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Hangover 2 – Tyson Tattoo case settles

By June 20, 2011 Posted in Copyright

Just as I predicted (if Nikki Finke wouldn’t sue me I’d say, “Toldya!”), the lawsuit brought by Mike Tyson Tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill against Warner Brothers for putting his tattoo on Ed Helms’s face in Hangover 2 settled today, after a settlement conference last Thursday.

Two weeks ago, Warner Brothers announced that they would digitally alter the tattoo for the DVD release of the film.  Now I’m sure that Warner Brothers did not really want to do this.  But by making this threat, they were sending a message to Mr. Whitmill that they were not going to worry about him obtaining a permanent injunction against the distribution of the film.  By changing the tattoo for the DVD, Mr. Whitmill’s damages would be limited to the amount of profits earned by the film that were attributable to the use of the tattoo, as opposed to the stars, the story, the director, the jokes, the setting, etc.

As it would be very difficult (and expensive) for Mr. Whitmill to prove that any percentage of the film’s profits were as a result of using his tattoo and not an original design, I’m sure Mr. Whitmill saw the wisdom of taking a quick payment (which I’m sure was not insubstantial) and not wait and see what a jury would decide at the trial in 2012.

So Warner Brothers can now release the DVD unedited, and Mr. Whitmill gets a very large check for the use of his tattoo.

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