If I illustrate a real person as a fictional character in a painting or graphic novel without their expressed permission, can they sue me?

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If I illustrate a real person as a fictional character in a painting or graphic novel without their expressed permission, can they sue me?

Essentially I want to use a real likeness of person to model a character in a story after. The character will be humanoid but not human and because I have a limited number of images to work with the plus the alien features that will be added the final character will only vaguely (if at all) look like this person and only with certain expressions probably while other expressions will be completely improvised from generic rules of face movement/mechanics. The problem is that I contacted the person doing an exact mimic of her as the character (which she didn’t do) and now she’s unreachable.

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Business Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:


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