This is a real instance, but I'm going to avoid names.
I downloaded a photograph found via Google - a still from a famous show. This is an image of a television character in a known location that was part of the show. The credit for the photo is [photographer/[famous TV company].
To that I superimposed two additional characters - my own photography & green-screen process - to make it look as though they were part of the same scene. To be clear, the original character and location are still recognisable and unadulterated. The only change is it now appears that there are two other 'matching' characters in the scene. There is no hint of any defamation or ridicule of the characters, it is a simple set of 'hero poses' in a known film set location.
This derivation was used for a family calendar in a print run of maybe 6.
I'd call that 'fair use'.
However, I'd now like to be able to post that up online.
There is no hint of any profit being made, merely a 'Hey, look what I can do in Photoshop'; but let's assume I wanted to post it to Stack Exchange, which would assign a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. [As far as my limited knowledge goes] I can't do that because I don't have the right to reassign the original work. If I wanted to post to social media, Facebook etc I really don't know what license they would use… if any. It all seems a bit cavalier.
I contacted the original photographer to see if he would allow this usage - however, he got back to me quickly & nicely, only to explain he doesn't own the rights himself, they were assigned to [famous TV company]. My attemps to contact [fTVc] have drawn a blank.
Am I just plain out of luck?
Is there still any case for it being legally considered 'mine because it is derivative or fair use' or am I still hard up against the rights of the original owner whom I cannot contact? I don't want to just 'post & be damned', I'd rather do this properly [or not at all].
I'm in the UK, additional images & manipulation done UK, original photograph taken in Northern Ireland [again UK], [famous TV company] is American.