I'm writing a science fiction novel and I want to use Jim Morrison (lead singer for The Doors who died 47 years ago) as a minor character. Actually, it is a copy of Jim Morrison uploaded after his death into a 13-dimensional computer, which is embedded in my protagonist's brain. Since this is an emulation created after his death and not the living, breathing Jim, would this be enough to protect me from defamation?

I'm also considering making him an altered personality, deranged from dying and "breaking through to the other side." I may also turn him into a "chimera" personality, half Jim, half host. Could these provide more protection from liability?

Is it lawful if Jim speaks or sings some of his lyrics in the story?

I've heard that the location of death determines the jurisdiction. Since he died in Paris, how would French law affect this?

2 Answers 2


You can’t defame a dead person - dead people have no reputation that can be legally damaged.

The lyrics are certainly under copyright but usage of a small amount in a different art form is probably fair use/dealing - your publisher’s legal department should be all over this.


The more important question is where you're writing and where you're publishing.

If you're in the United States, though, the fact that you're writing a science-fiction novel is enough to protect you from defamation liability. It doesn't matter whether he's alive or dead, original Jim or copied Jim altered Jim. You're not presenting your work as truthful, so it's not actually a statement about him and therefore can't be defamatory. As Dale M pointed out, the fact that he's dead also cuts off defamation liability just about everywhere.

The question about lyrics is also jurisdiction-specific. But in the United States, it would probably not be a problem to include a line or two here or there. Set up that way, it would probably be considered fair use and therefore not a copyright violation.

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