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I'm interested in having an artist create a piece of work based on the likeness of a deceased person. I'm also interested in attaching a quote from them to that image.

The person in question died around 20 years ago, however I'm sure their estate still handles their books etc.

Has anyone dealt with this before? Must I seek permission from the estate to use a quote?

Thanks!
 

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It doesn't matter that the person is deceased, the estate still retains the rights to the usage of their name and likeness. So you would need to contact the estate to get license or permission for usage.

Just make sure the artist doesn't base their work off a copyrighted photo.

I'm not sure about quotes. I guess since you have to contact the estate anyway, ask them about permission to use the quote. If the quote is from a movie or tv show, it's possible that it is property of the production company, so you may need permission from them too.
 

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Tim,

If in the Op's situation the deceased person was a political figure would the same thing apply? I know you have said that political figures give up their "right to publicity" when running/taking office how about once they leave office? do they revert back to the same laws that protect everyone else?

For the sake of argument we could use someone like Richard Nixon, when if ever did he regain his right to publicity?

TIA
 

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If in the Op's situation the deceased person was a political figure would the same thing apply?
The copyright issue would still apply as far as using an image as the inspiration for the artwork.

But the usage of the name and likeness would be different. There are more allowances for political figures than actors, athletes, musicians, etc.

I know you have said that political figures give up their "right to publicity" when running/taking office how about once they leave office? do they revert back to the same laws that protect everyone else?
When politicians give up their right of publicity, it's more of a voluntary decision, not an official law. So yes, I suppose they can revert back to protecting their rights once they leave office (or at any time they choose, for that matter).

But there is definitely a line drawn between "celebrities" and "celebrity politicians" in regards to right of publicity cases, mainly because there is no real legal precedence set for politicians bringing action and having a judgment awarded one way or the other.

Two recent situations involved Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Obviously, these two break the barriers between "celebrities" and "politicians." Companies were using their celebrity images (from wrestling and movies) to make political-themed merchandise. They brought action, but both cases settled before going to court, so no verdict was reached to set a precedence.

For the sake of argument we could use someone like Richard Nixon, when if ever did he regain his right to publicity?
Since politicians don't formally "lose" their rights, there's nothing to "regain." Elected officials rarely bring action for concerns about what it will do for their image, campaign and future political aspirations. After all, they play with tax payers money all day, it would seem fickle to protect their right to profit off themselves.

Former politicians may view things differently, it's hard to tell. And it would be up to the estate of deceased politicians to decide to bring action. I'm not an attorney, but I would think it would be rare for this to happen.
 
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