Paid Members air_raid Posted June 25, 2021 Paid Members Share Posted June 25, 2021 I imagine some of you will have some knowledge about this. How far can you take using elements of a celebrity’s likeness before you have to worry, from a legal point of view, especially where profit is to be made? There's a couple of examples from decades ago, and from now. The original Japanese release of Street Fighter II had the boxer we call Balrog in the West, named M. Bison (with the dictator being named Vega and the matador being named Balrog). Looking at the characters design, he’s fairly obviously modelled after Mike Tyson. People have pointed out that his character is 6’6 as a suggestion that other boxers’ physiques might have been the inspiration, but Capcom were so wary of the boxer called M. Bison prompting legal action from M. Tyson that they changed the names for exporting the game to the States. Iron Mike didn’t become aware of this fact until 2019 and was quite chuffed to find out, by all accounts. The same year that Street Fighter II came out, Tyson was also parodied in The Simpsons as Drederick Tatum, later managed by Lucious Sweet, a fairly transparent duplicate of Don King, although from the mouth of Homer, existing in a world in which King also exists. I’m fairly confused as to where the line is for needing permission to use a persons likeness (or indeed, name), and sometimes it seems like all is fair in the name of humour – but that can’t be true, can it? More recently, I’m a big fan of Jim’ll Paint It on Twitter, and he sells his work as prints and on t-shirts. Without getting into IP rights (his work involves many characters from popular fiction especially film and TV), there are loads of pieces for sale with fairly obvious depictions of politicians and celebrities from popular culture. Am I to assume he just has to hope that a Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Teresa May, Nicola Sturgeon, Piers Morgan etc doesn’t stumble upon his site and notice their likeness being used for profit? I’ve had a little read about it and it seems a bit of a grey area, in my line of work I encounter lots of ripping off of both likenesses of real people and fictional IP that’s swept under the rug in the name of “parody” but there are quite a few instances I’ve read up on from video games and other media where the person who’s had their image “parodied” has sued and won damages from the party using their likeness without permission. I’m guess I’m wondering where the line is. How different does something have to be from its source inspiration to viewed legally “OK”? For instance - if you wanted to create a platformer where the central sprite was a diminutive football player fairly obviously inspired by Lionel Messi but named Goat or Wizard, where would you stand? What if you changed the stripes on his shirt to purple and orange or the colour of his hair? I should make it clear – I’m not interested in creating anything myself, I’m just wondering where the legal line is. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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