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A friend and I are currently brainstorming ideas for a little game project we have in a few weeks and one of the ideas involves using two currently alive celebrities as the protagonists.

The game isn't going to be a AAA title, it is going to be a small game consisting of 8bit graphics. However, we will be modelling the graphics off these two said celebrities and in addition we are also planning on using one of the celebrities names in the title of the game which we would put on the android app store. Another point to add is that we are planning on monetizing the game. It also might be worth a mention that we live in the UK and the celebrities in question live in the U.S.A

So given the above - Is it legal to do what we are proposing? And if so are there any 'catches' if you will?

I look forward to any and all help!

Many thanks!

(I did not know what area of law this would fall under, so apologies if I used an incorrect tag)

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In the US there is a "right of publicity": you may not use someone's image commercially without obtaining their permission, but the degree of protection varies by state. The UK apparently does not have a "right of publicity" as such, but other IP and trade rules have been invoked in preventing some uses. Using the names of the celebrities in the title of the game could be a problem because it could be argued that it creates the impression of an endorsement. The submission rules for the Android Store appear to explicitly forbid using somebody else's name:

Don't use another app's branding— Don’t use another product, person, or company name in your app title or description if you have not been given express permission to do so, as this may give the impression that your app is officially sponsored when it is not.

  • Hi and thanks for the response! Yes that is what I have been thinking. Because essentially I would be making profit through adverts by using a celebrities likeness and name - which sparks alarm bells for me; especially considering I would not have expressed permission from either of the two celebrities. I think it is a safe bet not to do the game and think of another one which might not draw so much attention! Many thanks again for the response! – De Lacy Feb 26 '16 at 10:36

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