Back in 2011, the artist responsible for boxer Mike Tyson’s distinctive facial tattoo sued Warner Brothers for using his tattoo without consent on the film, Hangover II.
The L.A. Times reported: the lawsuit “alleged that the artist retained all the rights to the image, including the copyright.”
Since Warner Bros. did not consult the artist of the tattoo before using it in their film, I think he had a legitimate reason to sue the entertainment company.
According to thebalancesmb.com, “Copyright describes the legal rights of the owner of intellectual property. The person, who owns the copyright to work, such as song lyrics or an original drawing, is the only person who can copy that work.”
Unless an artwork has entered the public domain (which occurs generally occurs 70 years after an artist’s death), the artist or his/her estate must give permission for their work to appear in a movie.
S. Victor Whitmill, the artist behind the tattoo, did not give permission to Warner Bros. to use his work. So if you ask me, should the artist get money? I’ll say yes. His work was copied, stolen, and used without his permission.
I’m sure realizing that your work was copied without permission hurts. An artist spends time and energy bringing forth their art to fruition and sharing it with the world whilst hoping they can make a living out of it.
Not only do I hope Whitmill received nice sum of money, but I also hope he got an apology from Warner Bros. for not informing him that his work would be used in major motion picture.
Don’t you think a company worth billions of dollars can afford to pay an artist, just like it pays its actors, directors, and writers? Whitmill’s tattoo played a vital role in Hangover II, so why shouldn’t he be credited and paid for it?