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Celebrities in historical fiction

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I'm working on a novel set in the 60s, and I've used a living celebrity as a minor character. Am I allowed to do this, or do I have to seek permission? :catmoon:
#1 - October 31, 2012, 06:12 AM
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Since the person is living, I'd ask for permission. If the person were dead, I think it would be a good idea to ask permission from his or her estate ... but I don't know the rules on this. I tend to be on the cautious side when it comes to using real people ...

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#2 - October 31, 2012, 10:25 AM
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I think it depends in part about how you are handling it.  If, for example, you have your MC with a crush on a teen idol, and she goes to a concert and shakes his hand or something, that's probably not something you need to worry about.  If the celebrity is really a minor character, with dialogue, I'd tread more carefully.
#3 - October 31, 2012, 10:34 AM
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Depends on a lot of factors, including whether a court would identify the person as a "public figure" or not, what sorts of things you take liberties with, and whether you write anything they or their family members could object to (and people are funny -- they sometimes object to things you wouldn't expect).

As V says, the safest course is to get permission -- or, easier, to make up a fictionally famous character for that role instead.
#4 - October 31, 2012, 12:58 PM
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I second the motion to make up a fictional celebrity. Another big advantage to this is that it doesn't date your book. What if you use the real celebrity, and he or she then dies, or self-destructs in some awful way? Immediately, your book is dated, or "ooky," if you know what I mean. A fictional celebrity is under your control in all ways.
#5 - November 01, 2012, 07:29 AM
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Thanks, everybody! It's set in the 1960s, so it's dated to begin with:)  I talked to an author who had used a big, current celebrity's name in the title of a book, and her publisher did the legal research, and they didn't find a problem. I'll dig a little deeper...I guess if it looks like it might be a problem, I can make up a name, but this person was a big deal in a very small town way back then - it would almost seem phony not to include her.
#6 - November 01, 2012, 12:01 PM
www.jancoates.ca
2018, Talking to the Moon (MG)
2018, A Halifax Time-Travelling Tune (PB)
2016, Sky Pig (PB)
2015, The King of Keji
2014, Rocket Man

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