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  1. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Using Famous People in Fiction, and Lots of Them

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by guamyankee, Mar 10, 2011.

    I've got an idea for my next novel that involves lots of celebrities and famous people. It would all be fiction though. Total, obvious fiction. Anybody know the legalities of such an undertaking?
     
  2. joelpatterson
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    joelpatterson Member

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    I don't, but that's never stopped me.

    Like that guy who wrote the novel about Einstein... he felt it was "simpler" to have Einstein not only theorize the possibility of an atom bomb, but also build it himself and personally drop it on Hiroshima...

    Now admittedly, this novel only exists in serialized form in a few posts on Writingforums.org , but anyway, if the work you're envisioning is *obviously* fictionalized and your intent is to make a few observations about the culture, it's hard to imagine anyone seriously being bothered by it... long as you don't include anyone named Joel Patterson.
     
  3. joelpatterson
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    Or if you do, make it one of the other ones, the editor of Surfer Magazine or the drummer out in L.A.
     
  4. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Oh, it will have nothing to do with the culture...

    Also, Joel Patterson is the main character, who else would it be?
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    My current one involves about twenty-two famous historical figures - I've tried to stick to people who have been dead a long time (Einstein is the most recent died in 1955).

    There are things about fair usage of public figures but don't know the law.
     
  6. joelpatterson
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    Okay, that's it, we will sue.

    But my question is, why not have your hero a thinly veiled portrait of an ambitious writer, who maybe was stationed in San Francisco with the U.S. Coast Guard a few years back, you could give him an enigmatic name, evocative yet recognizable, maybe an historical public figure, I dunno... "Adam Smith"?
     
  7. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    I think you would have problems using living people as characters.
     
  8. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    I suppose you're right. Probably why noone else has done it.
     
  9. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    I hope not I used a cameo apperance of The 1st family of New Orleans The Manning's Archie, Olivia and son Cooper ...Although the three had no dialouge they attend the wedding of my MC the Manning's next door neighbors in the city's well heeled Garden District
     
  10. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    A walk-through by a famous person/people probably would not be a problem. Problems could arise when you attribute behaviors, attitudes, or dialogue to them. Think Forrest Gump, he was around many famous people, but they were all just backdrop for his story. They were also all dead.
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    And even that is probably ok if they're unlikely to have grounds to object to the portrayal. In Robert Rankin's Necrophenia Mick Jagger has somebody thrown out of the green room for making a clumsy pass at Marianne Faithful. Although the incident is fictional I doubt Jagger could object to being portrayed as a basically nice guy being reasonably defensive of his then girlfriend.
     

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