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https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2TOZW0SV7IR1U
Rights of Publicity
Celebrity images and/or celebrity names cannot be used for commercial purposes without permission of the celebrity or their management. This includes product endorsements and merchandise as well as unauthorized celebrity image collections.


Above is a quote from another thread from some Amazon guidelines.
Does this mean i cannot write a non fiction book, commentary, about well known business figures, without their permission ? Surely it can't be ? The book I have in mind, does not focus on one person alone, but a number of people, relatively well known, some very well known, as examples of the central theme of the book. They are not Hollywood celebrities or sports celebrities, but they are in a sense, business celebrities. All positive by the way. I would think this would be ok?
 

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I think you'd be okay. If you were to write a biography of Paris Hilton (though why anyone would want to is beyond me) with a pic of her on the cover and candid pics of her popping zits, etc inside, then you may have an issue. ROMANCE NOVEL pokes fun at Cheryl Crow, Sarah Palin, Al Gore, Richard Gere, Rosie Odonnel, Heath Ledger, Jake Glenblahblahdenhal, Sean Connery, Donald Trump, The Dixie Chicks, and the list goes on.....PJ
 
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Sky, I replied to your PM but I'll respond here as well for those that are curious.

In matters of non-fiction, generally so long as you are stating factual information and not being libelous, you are OK.  People write "unauthorized" biographies all the time (just look at some of the political crap on the market now about Obama, Palin, and just about anyone in DC.)

By Right of Publicity, they are referring to attempts to "steal" someone's publicity for your own purposes. You can write a book that talks about Bill Gates, for example, but you cannot imply he endorses the book.  You can't put a photo of Brad Pitt on the cover of your Romance Novel and use his likeness to sell books, but you can have two of your characters talk about Brad Pitt. 
 

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I've been curious about this too.  Can you write in your fiction a cameo by, say, Elvis, or Frank Sinatra?  Or do you have to get the estate's permission to do so?  If I write a novel and have my character have a dustup with Mel Gibson or Britney Spears... is that okay?  Could they sue me if I fictionalized them in an unflattering light?
 

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Terrence OBrien said:
If we needed permission, newspapers wouldn't exist.
Yes, but aren't newspapers writing 'factual' stories? They have to make sure they can back up what they write? But if a novelist has Britney throw up on their car, or Mel Gibson punch someone out, can that novelist be sued?
 

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Paul Clayton said:
Yes, but aren't newspapers writing 'factual' stories? They have to make sure they can back up what they write? But if a novelist has Britney throw up on their car, or Mel Gibson punch someone out, can that novelist be sued?
I don't know. I do know that PC Cast made a bunch of famous people into vampires though, and Harris made Elvis into a very... special... vampire in the Sookie Stackhouse novels.
 

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Ryne Billings said:
I don't know. I do know that PC Cast made a bunch of famous people into vampires though, and Harris made Elvis into a very... special... vampire in the Sookie Stackhouse novels.
Thank you. That would seem to indicate that they can't go after a novelist because he or she is writing 'fiction.'
 

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Paul Clayton said:
Thank you. That would seem to indicate that they can't go after a novelist because he or she is writing 'fiction.'
You're welcome. Just don't take my word too seriously. I can't give a good answer to this beyond those instances where it has happened because I don't know too much about legalities. Even with fiction, it can get into defamation, which can get you into trouble.
 

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I read a Ben Elton novel, can't remember which one, where he mentions a specific celebrity and then in brackets adds the comment that if you hope your book to have a shelf life longer than the current celebrity of the day, then don't mention them at all - make up your own celebrities  :)
 

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traceya said:
I read a Ben Elton novel, can't remember which one, where he mentions a specific celebrity and then in brackets adds the comment that if you hope your book to have a shelf life longer than the current celebrity of the day, then don't mention them at all - make up your own celebrities :)
Or use a celebrity with a long shelf life. Like George Strait. :D
 

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Ryne Billings said:
You're welcome. Just don't take my word too seriously. I can't give a good answer to this beyond those instances where it has happened because I don't know too much about legalities. Even with fiction, it can get into defamation, which can get you into trouble.
It's always best to write about fictitious characters you have given the characteristics and mannerisms that are common to the people you aren't actually defaming. Alduous huxley for instance with his book Crome yellow where he wrote about the Garsington set. I think the only punishment he received was being excluded from their company.
 

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greenpen said:
It's always best to write about fictitious characters you have given the characteristics and mannerisms that are common to the people you aren't actually defaming. Alduous huxley for instance with his book Crome yellow where he wrote about the Garsington set. I think the only punishment he received was being excluded from their company.
I'm glad I write epic fantasy set in a world of my creation. It's so much simpler. :D
 

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Ryne Billings said:
I'm glad I write epic fantasy set in a world of my creation. It's so much simpler. :D
I can think of quite a few celebrities I would like to have in my horror stories as well. And they wouldn't be heroes, believe you me.
Written to the sound of diabolical laughter and the screams of a few b list celebrities the world has already forgotten.
 

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I've yet to find a better cover for my WIP than a photo I took of Whitesnake's guitarist at a show in Berlin a few years ago. While I own the image, the fact he's a celebrity probably means I can't use it. The only way to get round it is to get permission off him in person, I reckon. It's not even clear it's him on the photo, but any musician will recognise his Les Paul.
 

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ilyria_moon said:
I've yet to find a better cover for my WIP than a photo I took of Whitesnake's guitarist at a show in Berlin a few years ago. While I own the image, the fact he's a celebrity probably means I can't use it. The only way to get round it is to get permission off him in person, I reckon. It's not even clear it's him on the photo, but any musician will recognise his Les Paul.
As far as I know if you take a photograph of somebody in the street and want to use it for commercial purposes you have to get them to sign a disclaimer or an assent form, not sure which, but if it's a celebrity It's a different ball game. I know newspapers can get way with it because they claim it's in the public interest. The whole ting is a legal minefield.
 

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greenpen said:
As far as I know if you take a photograph of somebody in the street and want to use it for commercial purposes you have to get them to sign a disclaimer or an assent form, not sure which, but if it's a celebrity It's a different ball game. I know newspapers can get way with it because they claim it's in the public interest. The whole ting is a legal minefield.
Yeah, it is. While technically it's my photo, he has so many endorsements with guitar & amplifier companies etc, that it could be argued he - the man, the image - is a trademarked creation. So even if he says Yes to me, his sponsors could take issue. I don't think I can recreate this picture, because stock photos aren't doing it. They just don't have the ability to create the lighting effects of a touring band. I'm sure I'll come up with an alternative artwork idea for the jacket by the time I finish. :)
 

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ilyria_moon said:
Yeah, it is. While technically it's my photo, he has so many endorsements with guitar & amplifier companies etc, that it could be argued he - the man, the image - is a trademarked creation. So even if he says Yes to me, his sponsors could take issue. I don't think I can recreate this picture, because stock photos aren't doing it. They just don't have the ability to create the lighting effects of a touring band. I'm sure I'll come up with an alternative artwork idea for the jacket by the time I finish. :)
And I suppose if that book was about or even had a rock star character, he could claim you are referring it was about him. Couldn't you go to another gig with a band who aren't that well know and take a similar picture, with permission of course? They might be glad of the publicity it would generate. I'm glad I write horror:) You couldn't imagine the things my girls could do to Mick Jagger and rick Parfitt with a few household utensils. He he! Elton John is all yours though if you want him.
 
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