Monterey, CA asked in Copyright for California

Q: Using a person's name in a screenplay without asking for permission?

I have already asked this question. How do I use a person's name in a screenplay without asking for permission?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Robert Philip Cogan
Robert Philip Cogan
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Diego, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You can do this by using the person's name and hoping that (1) the person never finds out or (2) finding out later that you did not need permission in the first place.

(This is simply a straightforward approach to the issue. It is not a flip answer.)

Steve Charles Vondran
Steve Charles Vondran
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: How were the answers you got lost time? You always have to be careful using a persons name, image, or likeness without their consent. Many states have "right of publicity laws" (for example, California where I practice). There are some exceptions to the rule (in California I am speaking about), such as:

1. Statute of limitations

2. First amendment (privilege for matters in the public interest)

3. Waiver

4. Parody

5. Copyright pre-emotion

6. Incidential use (see Aliso v. Time Life books)

But before you just "flip a coin" and take your chances (it's always best to seek permission from the person), its always good to discuss all the facts of your case with entertainment counsel. I know its redundant, but if you want an answer you can rely on, you need to pony up and get the advice. best of luck!!

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