I'm not sure if copyright is the correct term, but you likely understand what I mean. I'll flesh it out a bit more:

Assume a toy was made in the likeness of a celebrity, and from its movement and sounds it is apparent that it is a likeness of the celebrity1 , and that it would be sold using that persons name and (for the most part) sell because of that persons popularity.

Although it's a matter of opinion, I know (being the designer) that it would be made out of respect for that person, but there is always a chance they may not like aspects of it.

The celebrity comes from a country that I am not citizen of (neither of us are from the US). The sales would happen online and globally.

My questions:

  • can I be held accountable by the person for any profits I make from the sale of these toys?
  • if so, what if I have already passed the profits on to a charity that (I suspect) they would approve of, would I be liable anyway?

I figure it might be prudent to approach them first, but I was wondering where I would stand regardless ...

1: their appearance, the way they move or their voice are copyright free as far as I am aware...

  • 2
    This is generally covered by personality rights, not copyright.
    – Mark
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 22:03
  • @Mark - thanks, this is the stuff I need to read... Just needed the term - if you write it up as an answer and I'll upvote and accept for sure - thanks again Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 4:14
  • You should check if they or their agency registered their name as a trademark. Many celebrities who are in show business do that. When they did, you must not name your product after them or mention them in your advertisement material.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


What you are talking about is personality rights, not copyright. Personality rights laws cover the usage of someone's name, image, or likeness; the actual laws vary greatly from country to country, so your best bet is to consult a lawyer in the countries you're interested in.

  • Just reading up on it... The sale would be global, so it's not feasible to go ahead on my own steam. And of course if respect is the intention it's best I get in contact with them. Still, it's good to know - thanks (I'll upvote once I have enough rep here!) Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 4:32

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