Saturday, June 11, 2011

Did Warner Bros. spend a quiver in its arrow by removing Tyson tattoo from "The Hangover Part II" DVD?

The latest development in the Tyson tattoo saga is that defendant Warner Bros. will digitally remove the copyrighted tattoo from the DVD version of  "The Hangover Part II." In legal documents filed Monday the studio said it did "not intend to make any use of the allegedly infringing tattoo after the film ends its run in the theaters because Warner Bros. will digitally alter the film to substitute a different tattoo on Ed Helms’s face." Tattoo artist S. Whitmill may have been denied the injunction he sought to prevent the release of the film in theaters (not surprising given how high the threshold is for a court to exercise its discretion and grant injunctive relief) but the copyright infringement claim is ongoing. Is it me or did the defendant just spend a quiver in its arrow in that litigation by voluntarily removing it from the DVD? And surely the studio doesn't really think that the proposed digital manipulation of the original feature film can remove the need to go to trial? Copyright infringement occurs each and every time a copyrighted work is used without permission of the copyright owner (whose rights over the work are exclusive) meaning the purported infringement cannot be "made right" by not reproducing the tattoo in the DVD.

For background on the Tyson tattoo copyright litigation, see here.


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