Maori Angry About Mike Tyson's Tattoo Artist Claiming To Own Maori-Inspired Design

from the ownership-society dept

Well, here's an interesting twist on the lawsuit from Victor Whitmill over the copyright on Mike Tyson's face tattoo. Many people have pointed out that the design appears to be inspired by the Maori, and it appears that Maori tattoo experts think Whitmill doesn't deserve anything at all:
Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, author of Mau Moko: The World of Maori Tattoo, described Mr Whitmill's claims of ownership as insufferable arrogance. "It is astounding that a Pakeha tattooist who inscribes an African American's flesh with what he considers to be a Maori design has the gall to claim that design as his intellectual property," she said.

"The tattooist has never consulted with Maori, has never had experience of Maori and originally and obviously stole the design that he put on Tyson.

"The tattooist has an incredible arrogance to assume he has the intellectual right to claim the design form of an indigenous culture that is not his."
That article notes that a local Parliament member said that it was a "bit rich" for Whitmill to be "moaning about the breach of copyright copied off Maori." Seems like bringing in a Maori tattoo expert would make for an interesting witness if this ever actually goes to trial...

Filed Under: maori, mike tyson, s. victor whitmill, tattoo


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  1. icon
    Mike42 (profile), 26 May 2011 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: WTF???

    See here: http://paidcontent.org/article/419-judge-shows-sympathy-for-plaintiffs-in-tyson-tattoo-case/

    A quote from the article:
    Perry also noted that “the entire tattoo in its original form was used (not in any parody form), the tattoo was not necessary to the basic plot of the movie, and that Warner Brothers used the tattoo substantially in its marketing of the movie.”

    And once again, "Themes" means nothing to the Techdirt regulars who I'm railing against. As I said above, just because I'm borrowing from another culture doesn't mean I lose the copyright on the specific thing I create. If it turns out that he appropriated the entire tat, that's a different subject.

    On a separate note, the artist's damages are laughable. He is trying for the bogus "loss of control" derived from the moral copyrights of Europe. Dude, you would put that on anyone's face for less than $5k. Take a settlement and the fame you just recieved and shut up.

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