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  1. #1
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    Jul 2020
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    Default Is It Legal to Sell Drawings of Celebrity Likenesses for Educational Purposes

    My question involves defamation in the state of: Nevada

    I have a strange and obscure situation I'm finding conflicting information on when trying to research the legality of.

    I am in the field of competitive memorization (Memory palaces and mnemonics, that sort of thing). I want to create a course that helps to memorize large amounts of specific information, and a common way to do that involves converting information into more easily visualized and memorable images, such as having celebrities interact with mnemonic images in strange ways to trick your brain into remembering it.

    The mnemonics I use to memorize information specifically involve visualizing nude celebrities. I want to create a book of drawings and paintings of these mnemonics as part of an educational course, but am concerned about whether or not doing so could leave me open to a lawsuit from the celebrities.

    Is anything like this covered under a situation that would shield me from potential lawsuits, or would it be considered copyright infringement?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Default Re: Is It Legal to Sell Drawings of Celebrity Likenesses for Educational Purposes

    Even if you had a legitimate defense to a lawsuit (which I'm not seeing here), you would be sued by so many celebrities that you would go bankrupt from legal fees alone.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Is It Legal to Sell Drawings of Celebrity Likenesses for Educational Purposes

    Quote Quoting DeuceEquis
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    The mnemonics I use to memorize information specifically involve visualizing nude celebrities. I want to create a book of drawings and paintings of these mnemonics as part of an educational course, but am concerned about whether or not doing so could leave me open to a lawsuit from the celebrities.
    Yes, it would open you up to lawsuits.


    Quote Quoting DeuceEquis
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    Is anything like this covered under a situation that would shield me from potential lawsuits, or would it be considered copyright infringement?
    There's nothing you can do that will prevent lawsuits from being filed, but this has nothing to do with copyrights. Whether you can prevail in a lawsuit will depend on the applicable state law. Let's look at California law as an example (since a significant percentage of celebrities live in CA). California Civil Code section 3344(a) provides as follows: "Any person who knowingly uses anotherís name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner, on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods or services, without such personís prior consent, or, in the case of a minor, the prior consent of his parent or legal guardian, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof." The damages are the greater of $750 per infringing use (e.g., if you publish 1,000 copies of your book and your book includes 100 celebrity images, you'd be looking at $75 million in damages) or the actual damages and your profits. The prevailing party is entitled to recover his/her attorneys' fees as an element of costs. Subsection (d) provides for exceptions for uses "in connection with any news, public affairs, or sports broadcast or account, or any political campaign," but there is no exception for educational uses.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    7,056

    Default Re: Is It Legal to Sell Drawings of Celebrity Likenesses for Educational Purposes

    Quote Quoting DeuceEquis
    View Post
    My question involves defamation in the state of: Nevada

    I have a strange and obscure situation I'm finding conflicting information on when trying to research the legality of.

    I am in the field of competitive memorization (Memory palaces and mnemonics, that sort of thing). I want to create a course that helps to memorize large amounts of specific information, and a common way to do that involves converting information into more easily visualized and memorable images, such as having celebrities interact with mnemonic images in strange ways to trick your brain into remembering it.

    The mnemonics I use to memorize information specifically involve visualizing nude celebrities. I want to create a book of drawings and paintings of these mnemonics as part of an educational course, but am concerned about whether or not doing so could leave me open to a lawsuit from the celebrities.

    Is anything like this covered under a situation that would shield me from potential lawsuits, or would it be considered copyright infringement?
    The issue you raise has been in the federal courts for decades. It involves your first amendment rights verses the celebrities right to publicity. It involves original derivative works and the specific commercial use of such works.

    I'm not sure of exactly you mean by I want to create a course that helps to memorize large amounts of specific information, and a common way to do that involves converting information into more easily visualized and memorable images, such as having celebrities interact with mnemonic images in strange ways to trick your brain into remembering it.


    I do remember Evelyn Wood's recall patterns as a visual aid to remembering large amounts of information. I used it all through college.

    I'm not going to try to explain all the doctrines that apply here. There are too many. But if you want to read a case that will explain them to you this is the case. Grab a beer because it's a very long read.

    See an intellectual properties attorney for advise. Can you get sued even if you can do what you suggest? The answer is most certainly yes. Would you win such a suit? I think you would but at what cost? You can reach out to the celebrities or their estates and ask for permission or a license to use the likeness. That would cost much less than a lawsuit.

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