Can I use a picture of two actors on my book to show readers where the characters came from? 4 Answers as of December 18, 2012

If I find an old picture let’s say of Van Damme and Ava Gardner on line, can I use that image in a book I am writing on my "dear readers" page? All I want to say it that I based my characters on them and show the picture I found?

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Roe Law Firm
Roe Law Firm | Theodore M. Roe
The simple answer is no. There are a variety of reasons that this is not permissible. Number one, the photographer and sometimes the model have copyrights to the image you wish to appropriate. Just because it is on the internet does not mean that it can be used without first obtaining licensing rights. One major exception to this rule is that of fair use. You may use the copyrighted material of another if it is being used for news, education, parody, etc. Additionally, if you based your characters on the lives of actual people you must first obtain life rights from them. Consequently, your underlying book may violate the people's rights whom you based the characters upon.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 12/18/2012
Law Offices of Neil Sussman
Law Offices of Neil Sussman | Neil Sussman
No, you can not use a picture of two actors on your book. You must have permission to use the image of another person for commercial purposes.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 12/18/2012
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
If the photographs were taken prior to about 1923, they are in the public domain and you may use them. If they were taken after that, they are probably still protected by copyright law and you will need to get permission from the copyright owner to use them.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 12/18/2012
Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
Someone owns the copyright on that photo. You need to find who that is and get clearance from them. If you use photos that you don't have the right to use, your book is unmarketable. Talk with your publisher about this. Your publisher's legal team will be able to handle this or will make a decision regarding any use of such a photo.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 12/18/2012
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