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WolfgangWilkinson

Public Figures in Games

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I was wondering if it is legal for me to use my own art depictions of public figures such as presidents or celebrities. The game would be a puzzle game where the user would move a grid of several faces around to make shapes for points (similar mechanics as bejeweled, but they would be require to make a pattern in x number of moves). Then upon completion the user would be given a fun fact about the public figure. The game would be published to the Android Market either for free or $0.99. I have googled the topic and found several conflicting results. Most information was about using an image of the figure to show the figure using or endorsing a product or service (putting someone face on a wheaties box). Also I read some of copyright.gov, but the language is vague. Could someone clarify for me?

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Your idea is problematic for a few reasons:

1) you expose yourself to name and likeness claims (CA specifically has a statutory cause of action for this, I think it's section 3344-- most other states recognize a common law cause of action for this as well).

2) You expose yourself to appropriation clais-- this means that you've appropriated (exploited/used for commercial gain) the likeness of another without permission. This is closely tied to the name and likeness claim.

3) You expose yourself to defamation claims, in the event any of the facts/information you include is in any way inaccurate or implies anything inaccurate or damaging to a person's identity;

4) Similarly you've got false light invasion of privacy.

So yeah. Risky business, using the names, photographs, charicatures, voices, signatures, and likenesses of others.

You'll either need permission to use these images and individuals or you need to come up with a different idea if you want to avoid the risk all together.

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Quote:
Original post by WolfgangWilkinson
I was wondering if it is legal for me to use my own art depictions of public figures such as presidents or celebrities.

Presidents are public figures, but celebrities are celebrities.
Public figures may have only limited rights over their likeness, while celebrities do not.
That said, Mona is the lawyer, not I!

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Thanks Mona.

You cleared that up. I am sure getting celebrities to give permission to an indie dev could be a slow process.

I'll have to be more creative and original instead of targeting the twilight craze.

Thanks again for answering my question and saving me time and effort as well as legal head aches.

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