This article was posted by handselecta 2 years, 3 days, 4 minutes ago.
Of particular interest to our community is this recent story about the new movie The Hangover Part 2 and a lawsuit brought by the tattoo artist who did Mike Tysons Maori-inspired tattoo. Mike Tyson, who appears in the movie and it’s predecessor is untouched by the lawsuit, but the artist is claiming intellectual property of the design and is suing Warner Brothers for applying the design of Mikes facial tattoo to another character, an unwitting goofball played by Ed Helms.
Fellow 12oz blogger, Bates has made many postings regarding biting, and style-theft in the past, and surely would fall on the copyright defense of the argument side I assume. Bates, I’d love to chat about this issue over a beer or two sometime. In my opinion there has to be a balance between property rights that protect innovation without inhibiting further innovation in art, science, or comedy.
The entire tradition of American tattooing is based upon the slow growth and evolution of flash designs, and yes, even theft of and imitation of original art, but given a long enough time line, these small innovations and characteristics merge into the characteristics of the whole. Sometimes you can trace these things back to a single person, but rarely. I find it is neither Ayn Rand nor Malcolm Gladwell, but a combination of the two. People must be able to enjoy the fruits of their own labor, but we are also a culmination of the people who came before us, none of us is so creative that we created our art, or tag, or piecing style in a void. In this case of the Ta Moko, should the Maori of New Zealand, be able to sue Mike Tyson by the same logic? Or maybe they should sue the tattoo artist, an American who is making his money doing tattoos that are indigenous to another culture and country? It becomes a murky landscape. The next time I go to get a tattoo am I going to have to sign a waiver longer than an itunes End-user-license agreement?
In my line of work, graphic design for sports, fashion, and the skate & streetwear industry, there is a long history of fair use, mockery and mimickry. Johanna Blakely did a great TED talk some time ago, about the benefits of such a system (albeit in a higher fashion world). Video below.
And Reason TV’s argument for fair-use and parody rights is a solid piece of info to weigh out before forming your opinion.
I don’t know if this is coherent enough to convince anybody, or if that’s my point. I guess I just want people within the graf community to allow for the possibility that we aren’t always as original as we brag. Every generation owes a debt of gratitude to the ones before it, but maybe the act of creating and recreating art is that gratitude. I think the swagger of hip hop has affected us in a bad way and keeps us from advancing and innovating, both individually and as a group.
© Handselecta & 12ozProphet - Sunday May 22, 2011