Entertainment & Sports Law

Judge Rules 'Hangover II' May Be Released, Despite Copyright Dispute over Tattoo


Updated: The show must go on, according to a federal judge ruling in a copyright dispute involving a tattoo.

The Hangover: Part II was allowed to open this week after U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry refused to issue an injunction barring its release, according to The Wrap and Hollywood, Esq. Warner Bros. issued a statement saying it is gratified by the decision.

Perry ruled in a suit by tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill, who claims an actor in the movie sports a tattoo on his face with Whitmill’s copyrighted design. Whitmill originally created the tattoo for prizefighter Mike Tyson.

A brief for Warner Bros. had argued that “the very copyrightability of tattoos is a novel issue,” Reuters reports.

Despite Perry’s decision for Warner Bros. on the injunction, the studio faces an uphill battle, according to the New York Times Media Decoder blog. The judge said Whitmill had a strong likelihood of prevailing and most of the arguments by Warner Bros. were “silly.”

“Of course tattoos can be copyrighted,” Perry said in court. But she said stopping the movie opening would be disruptive and could cause financial harm to businesspeople who are not parties to the lawsuit, Media Decoder says.

Updated on May 26 to include more details on the ruling.

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