Using the likeness

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Using the likeness

Post by core44d »

I want to sell my art, based on various celebrities, changing the name but using the likeliness, for instance, a painting of

"Slyvester Im on The Phone" (instead of Slyvester Stallone)
and and cartoon depiction of a "phone" in a Rocky pose

Am I able to sell/market this without licensing?
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Re: Using the likeness

Post by AndyJ »

Hi core44d,

If you are doing this in the UK then there are no personality rights which would be infringed by this. In over half the states in the USA and around a dozen other countries around the world a person's image (amongst other personal traits) is protected*, somethimes long after the person concerned has died. Thus if you planned on marketing your art in the USA etc, you might get sued in the courts there. However if you live in the UK and don't answer a suit of this sort, a US domestic court will have no jurisdiction over you. Thus there's not much the personality concerned can do about it even if they win the case by default, unless you visit the USA at some later stage when, theoretically, a judgement could then be enforced against you.

The other aspect to this is whether an image like a photograph taken by someone else is used to create the likeness. If your likeness was deemed to be a copy (in the copyright sense) of the original and this was done without permission, that might amount to copyright infringement. However, since this appears to be contemplated in a light-hearted context, it is possible that in the UK at least, the exception for parody could mean that this would be considered as fair dealing.

*However in most cases the protection only applies to false endorsement of products and the like, rather than the sort of caricature you are talking about.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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