How do I use someones identity without being sued.

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Cakey
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How do I use someones identity without being sued.

#1 Post by Cakey » Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:41 pm

Hi,
So I wondered if you can slightly change a name or surname without using picture and using real person as a background, and not be sued and earn money on VS you made. Lets say I want to make Emma Watson actress in visual novel. So I make art similar to her and Make her Amy Watson but she still is an actress and stuff. Could I be sued by her or is it safe?

Edit: I know it sounds really bad but they do it in the movies and anime too. Misspeled McDonald and Starbucks etc. I don't want to commit crime. Just be safe with using real people refferences.

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Re: How do I use someones identity without being sued.

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:37 pm

Just because its done in movies, doesn't mean they're doing it to avoid infringing copyright.
McRondalds and similar misspellings on 'McDonalds' or other brand names is done to avoid unsolicited advertising.
See:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement

If you don't have permission to use the IP, even altered, it is still illegal. Even using the same colors may infringe the trademark due to the "likelyhood of confusion" law.
https://www.upcounsel.com/likelihood-of-confusion
Here's a link to an attourney advice website on this exact matter. (not legal advice, but enough to give a general idea)
https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/does ... 64385.html

There are of course, exceptions, but IIRC those exceptions extend to more than 10% difference in the name/title/logo etc. Rather a lot more than changing a single letter.

My advice, contact the individual or entity you wish to portray, and explain your intentions.
Personally, I don't think you'll have any trouble getting permission.
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Re: How do I use someones identity without being sued.

#3 Post by papillon » Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:08 pm

The above is not really understanding the situation. This is not a copyright question or a product placement question, it's a different legal issue altogether. With real people, the legal questions revolve around things like likeness rights, libel, right to privacy, etc. Different set of things to worry about.

To the OP: What is your goal here?

Do you want a main character vaguely inspired by a famous actress?Or do you want to make an important character that you intend for everyone who plays the game to recognise as that famous actress?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a game about Amy Watson, the redhaired Welsh girl who became a child actress starring in a movie series about elves. No problem whatsoever. It's obvious that she's not the same person and that you are not insinuating anything about the real person. Being vaguely inspired by a real person is fine.

However, if you intend for everyone to look at your character and go "Yup, that's Emma Watson", or worse, to use that as a selling point in order to attract her fans? You're now in more dodgy territory and it does not matter if you changed her name a little. If you recall a few years ago the character of Ellie in The Last Of Us had to be redesigned because she looked too much like Ellen Page and they did not have the rights to use her likeness.

And no. It is not at all likely that she would grant you permission to use her likeness in a commercial game! (I doubt you'd even get an answer if you asked.)

There are situations where you can use a real public figure because you are commenting on them as a public figure. This is a complicated subject and it's extremely unlikely to be relevant for the kind of game you're talking about.

Also, remember that you always CAN be sued even if you've done nothing wrong. People file lawsuits on made-up grounds sometimes. It's just that if you haven't done anything wrong, you would hopefully be able to win in the end.

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Re: How do I use someones identity without being sued.

#4 Post by Selidor » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:43 am

The type of game you’re making is going to affect how cautious you need to be. There’s a big difference between, say, a murder mystery game where ‘Amy Watson’ is a witness to interview, and an adult game featuring ‘Amy Watson’ in explicit situations. Sure, there’s a chance they might both get you sued, but the latter is far more likely to upset the person in question.

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Re: How do I use someones identity without being sued.

#5 Post by Honeydrop » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:49 pm

I think this could fall under parody.
For example, instead of Lady Gaga you could do Lady Dada. Some people will "get the joke" that Dadaism was an art movement that posed the question "What is art?". That's a very layman's definition but, yeah you could do it.

Pretty sure it falls under parody as long as it doesn't fall under libel or slander. For example, don't have "Amy Watson" get her nudes leaked to the internet.

Maybe name her Amy Sherlock? Amy Vatson?
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