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Author Topic: Public domain image of a person for game charatcer  (Read 197 times)

eman333

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Hello! :)

I'm developing an RPG game which has a bunch on ingame characters you can interact with. Each character has a unique portrait that I have painted

What I have been doing so far is painting a 48x48 pixel portrait using a photo as a reference. I've gotten permission from everyone I  have painted so far, but there are some characters in the game that are of a very dark nature (rapists, child molesters, etc). I don't want to use anyone I know as a reference photo for those characters, so I was thinking of using some public domain images. Specifically the public domain images of the Ellis Island refugees. Am I right in thinking that I can do this without any legal repercussions? (given the nature of the characters). I won't actually be using the photo itself in the game, just painting a portrait that is based off of that photo.

Cheers for your help.
« Last Edit: 11-14-17 at 04:58 pm by eman333 »
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artchain

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Re: Public domain image of a person for game charatcer
« Reply #1 on: 11-14-17 at 01:36 pm »

If the photos are in the public domain, you are free to copy them, so this is not a copyright issue.

You're right to be concerned about using someone's image to portray a dark character - that could be considered defamatory, which is an entirely separate issue.

However, in all honesty, a 48x48 pixel painting based on a photo taken long ago is unlikely to be recognizable as any person living today. As long as you don't mention the inspiration for your drawing, or in any way connect it with an actual person, I don't think you'll have any trouble.


   

eman333

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Re: Public domain image of a person for game charatcer
« Reply #2 on: 11-14-17 at 05:12 pm »

Thanks for the reply!

The photos I'll be using are from between 1907 and 1925. So they subjects would be long since dead. Can relatives of the subjects theoretically come after me for defamation of the deceased?
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artchain

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Re: Public domain image of a person for game charatcer
« Reply #3 on: 11-14-17 at 06:52 pm »

Some states do allow suits by the estate or inheritors of a dead person who has been defamed. 

In general, such a suit would need to show significant damage.  Let's say the estate owns the rights to books written by a dead author.  Defaming the author might damage sales of the books, and in some states that might be enough for a successful lawsuit in states that allow it.

Personally, I don't think this is something you need to worry about.
 



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