If I illustrate a real person as a fictional character in a painting or graphic novel without their expressed permission, can they sue me?

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I illustrate a real person as a fictional character in a painting or graphic novel without their expressed permission, can they sue me?

Essentially I want to use a real likeness of person to model a character in a story after. The character will be humanoid but not human and because I have a limited number of images to work with the plus the alien features that will be added the final character will only vaguely (if at all) look like this person and only with certain expressions probably while other expressions will be completely improvised from generic rules of face movement/mechanics. The problem is that I contacted the person doing an exact mimic of her as the character (which she didn’t do) and now she’s unreachable.

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Business Law, Pennsylvania


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the final depiction of the art that you are creating is not remotely close to what the actual person you are modeling your art on, then I see no real problem with you using a photo or other depiction of that real life person from a liability standpoint so long as you do not mention what real life person was used as your "inspiration" for the painting that you wish to do.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption