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May 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Warner Bros. won the first round in the copyright battle over the use of Mike Tyson’s famous tattoo on one of the characters in The Hangover Part II, but it appeared almost certain that the studio will ultimately lose the legal fight. U.S. Judge Catherine D. Perry ruled in St. Louis that she would not issue an injunction barring this weekend’s release because too many people would be affected if she did, but, she said in court, S. Victor Whitmill, the artist who created the Tyson tattoo, has a “strong likelihood of prevailing on the merits for copyright infringement.” Furthermore, she said, the studio’s use of the tattoo in promotional items and other merchandising had resulted in Whitmill’s loss of “control over the image he created.” She ticked off each of the studio’s arguments and effectively scuttled them. “Of course tattoos can be copyrighted,” she remarked at one point. And as for the defense that the use of the tattoo in the movie amounted to parody and therefore subject to fair use provisions of the copyright law, Judge Perry said tersely, “This was an exact copy. It’s not a parody.” The use of the tattoo in the movie, she noted, “did not comment on the artist’s work or have any critical bearing on the original composition. There was no change to this tattoo or any parody of the tattoo itself.” In a statement the studio welcomed Judge Perry’s ruling, saying “Plaintiff’s failed attempt to enjoin the film in order to try and extract a massive settlement payment from Warner Bros. was highly inappropriate and unwarranted.”