1. Free Legal Help, Legal Forms and Lawyers. TheLaw.com has been providing free legal assistance online since 1995. Our most popular destinations for legal help are below. It only takes a minute to join our legal community!

    Dismiss Notice

Permission to use real person in a novel

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by amc252, Dec 13, 2019.

  1. amc252

    amc252 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Jurisdiction:
    California
    Hello,
    I have written a novel where the protagonist is a real person, a famous public person.
    Before contacting this person's lawyer to submit the manuscript and request permission, I would like to have more information about which steps this process involves and how to do it properly.
    I would welcome any references, tips, suggestions, and advice, except the obvious ones like "ask your lawyer".

    Thanks.
     
  2. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

    Messages:
    8,231
    Likes Received:
    1,384
    Trophy Points:
    113

    That's a shame, because the correct legal answer is to have a lawyer review the manuscript for potential legal potholes before you go anywhere NEAR the protaganist's lawyer. But since that's not what you want to hear..... (crickets)
     
    hrforme and justblue like this.
  3. flyingron

    flyingron Active Member

    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    245
    Trophy Points:
    43

    Yep, and we can't even possibly understand unless you told us how you intend to use this famous person. Somethings, you don't even need to ask for permission. Others are likely to get you sued (and lose) if the person is recognizable even if you don't mention the name.
     
    hrforme and justblue like this.
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    7,717
    Likes Received:
    1,970
    Trophy Points:
    113

    My guess is that the process involves contacting the person's lawyer, submitting the manuscript and asking for permission.

    You are likely to have to sign a contract, pay for a license to use that person as a character, and may even have to pay that person royalties.
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,690
    Likes Received:
    866
    Trophy Points:
    113

    So...is this a biographical work? Or have you written a work of fiction that is based on real life?

    I'm not sure I entirely understand what you're asking for, but I have a few questions. First, do you know who this person's lawyer is such that you'd be able to contact him/her? Second, why do you think you need this person's permission? Third, are you intending to submit your book to publishers for consideration or are you intending to self-publish?
     
  6. amc252

    amc252 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    First off, thanks for your replies.
    I obviously did not provide enough information or made myself clear, my bad.
    The novel is a work of fiction where a real famous person becomes the main character. It shows him in a critical if humorous way and there are no doubt that it is him.
    Hence, the answer to the question of whether I need his explicit permission and agree to royalties or fees is definitely yes.
    There is also no doubt about the fact that I must contact this person's lawyer (I have his name, email, etc.) and submit my manuscript for revision and approval.
    I must do that whether I decide to submit the book to a publisher or publish it myself.
    What I'd like to know is more about what is the best/proper way to approach the lawyer and submit my request.
    Like I said, normally I should hire a lawyer to do that on my behalf but, whether I do that or not, I'd like to know more about the process from your lawyerly perspective.
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    7,717
    Likes Received:
    1,970
    Trophy Points:
    113

    That's easy. Just call him up, tell him what you have told us here and ask him what you need to do about getting consent.

    Any answer to that question is going to be meaningless because nobody can predict what THAT lawyer's process is going to be.
     
    Zigner likes this.
  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,690
    Likes Received:
    866
    Trophy Points:
    113

    That conclusion does not necessarily follow from that description. I'm not saying it wouldn't be a good idea, but you don't necessarily need to do so solely because you're using a famous person as a lead character in a book.

    The process is to call the lawyer and tell him what you want to do and that you'd like to send the manuscript to him for review. I would strongly suggest you register your copyright before doing anything of that sort.
     
  9. flyingron

    flyingron Active Member

    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    245
    Trophy Points:
    43

    You say false things about someone that puts them in a "critical" (and you say humorous, but they will say ridiculing) light, and you're likely to get sued for libel (and will likely lose).
     
    hrforme, Red Kayak and justblue like this.
  10. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    902
    Likes Received:
    453
    Trophy Points:
    63

    Why do you think anyone would grant you permission to do that?
     
    hrforme likes this.
  11. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

    Messages:
    32,012
    Likes Received:
    4,766
    Trophy Points:
    113


    Before you make one dollar, if you ever make one dollar on your book, you'll shell out thousands of dollars in lawyer fees, and for purchasing the rights to your protagonist's (erstwhile invaluable life).

    Don't chase money you have no guarantee of ever receiving with money you already possess.

    A quail in your hand, is worth far more than a covey in the bush.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  12. amc252

    amc252 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Thanks again for your comments.
    I obviously believe the person in question will appreciate the humor of the story and agree to the book being published. It is a bet, of course, but I think it is worth my while.
    If they say yes, I will be able to submit the book to a publisher and negotiate fees and royalties.
    If they say no, well that's it.
     

Share This Page