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View Full Version : Using Likenesses of Deceased Persons


Buckyrig
06-17-2006, 09:59 PM
What is required to use the likeness of a dead person? I am specifically concerned with a relative of mine...although I am curious about other people...former presidents and celebrities, etc.

Poboy
06-17-2006, 10:13 PM
If they have relatives, I wouldn't do it. I read about a guy who drew illustrations of the Three Stooges and was sued by Moe's family and the artist lost. It's unbelievably stupid that someone can own the rights to a drawing you make, but it seems that's the case.

Jason Powell
06-17-2006, 10:34 PM
If they have relatives, I wouldn't do it. I read about a guy who drew illustrations of the Three Stooges and was sued by Moe's family and the artist lost. It's unbelievably stupid that someone can own the rights to a drawing you make, but it seems that's the case.

I don't think you got the whole story because it really depends on how they are used and if you call them by name and such. Parody laws cover you in a lot of ways and somethings are in free or public domain. People like Michael Jackson TM their names so you can't use them however, because they are in public and people emulate their style/look it is hard to say a character is them because it sort of looks like them (that is the reason you have disclaimers in the front of most comic books). You can use most political figures (like a President) because they are in free or public domain (they are not allowed to TM their names). But it is a double edged sword so be careful what you do.

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L Jamal
06-17-2006, 10:51 PM
^is not a lawyer and is very incorrect^
If you want to use a likeness then the appropriate thing to do is ask. You can use certain public figures without permission, but your mileage will vary. Celebrities like actors and musicians make lots of money based on their likeness so don't expect to be able to freely use their likeness.

Parody and satire does allow you more latitude with likeness, but the work must be a parody or satire.

BTW I'm not a lawyer either and you're better off contacting one than listening to strangers on the Internet.

j giar
06-17-2006, 11:09 PM
But jamal I don't consider you a stranger. You might be strange but you're not a stranger....or a lawyer. Bucky, are you using this for your own personal gain? If you are..yeah I'd be careful.

Buckyrig
06-18-2006, 12:03 AM
Well, I haven't done anything yet...I was thinking of having a character physically modeled after a dead relative of mine. The character has aspects of the real person, but is not truly even based on him. It's an early process idea, so I am just looking for anyone with possible experience for preliminary info. And it is for a GN idea.

j giar
06-18-2006, 12:48 AM
Well in that repect most of my charcters are based on people in my life. From first names to an amalgam of their personalities and attributes. Unless they are actual physical replicas of people you know I can't imagine that there would be any legal rammifications. Isn't everything we do based on real life personalities?
Character wise?

Kep!
06-18-2006, 01:07 AM
Well, I haven't done anything yet...I was thinking of having a character physically modeled after a dead relative of mine. The character has aspects of the real person, but is not truly even based on him. It's an early process idea, so I am just looking for anyone with possible experience for preliminary info. And it is for a GN idea.
Assuming it doesn't show your realative (who I assume you have some biological claim to) in a negative light, if any of the other relatives raise a sting, just say it was "tributory" to their memory and you'll be fine...really, who wants to sue blood over a tribute to blood? Not likely to happen. If it does, suing is more trouble than it's worth unless you have something to gain and a way to collect...I say you're fine either way.

I'm equally not a lawyer, but I've been in trouble enough.

Jason Powell
06-18-2006, 02:28 AM
^is not a lawyer and is very incorrect^
If you want to use a likeness then the appropriate thing to do is ask. You can use certain public figures without permission, but your mileage will vary. Celebrities like actors and musicians make lots of money based on their likeness so don't expect to be able to freely use their likeness.

Parody and satire does allow you more latitude with likeness, but the work must be a parody or satire.

BTW I'm not a lawyer either and you're better off contacting one than listening to strangers on the Internet.

Actually that is not incorrect and I have talked to a lawyer about this very thing when clearing the rights to my character RALPH in FBFH (which I had to work out with WB because the original design looked too much like BUGS BUNNY) and have the paperwork proving it. I did say it was a double edged sword though and to be careful cause I agree I am not a lawyer and agree you shouldn't go solely on what is said on the INTERNET. But read what I said, I only said "depends on how they are used", "if you call them by name", "Parody law covers you in a lot of ways", " it is hard to say a character is them", and "You can use most political figures".

See, if you read, I actually said the same thing you did except for the part about getting a lawyer (which is unrealistic for most people). But let's make it clearer. Now, if you are going to do it without a lawyer (which I don't advise), don't use their real names, do not reference them as being said person or thing, don't make them look too much like said person or thing (make a clear and noticeable change), don't use them on your covers, try not to show them in a negative light, and don't use them as a selling tool (the last two will get you in trouble faster than anything). And still, doing all that, you could still have trouble. Sound better ljamal?

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L Jamal
06-18-2006, 09:30 AM
See, if you read, I actually said the same thing you did except for the part about getting a lawyer
and the part about asking permission and the part about parody and satire only covering parody and satire and then you mentioned public domain a lot which I'm not sure what it has to with anything as public domain covers copyright and this is more about likeness rights and trademark, but discounting all that we said almost the exactly same thing. :confused: