When do you need permission to sculpt or paint a famous person? I can understand if you do something of George Washington or someone from history. What bout someone like John Wayne, Tom Landry, Ronald Reagan, or someone like that?

Stephen Fitz-Gerald's picture

portarits of famous persons

Stephen Fitz-Gerald
You don't need permission.

Katy L's picture

Public Figures

The person is not copyrighted, but the source material is.

Any source material is copyrighted. A copyright is automatic. It does not need to be applied for. Any work done by an artist, or craftsman is automatically copyrighted. So basically, if you are copying photographs (which I would assume) you would be infringing upon the copyright of the photographer. This is why most photographers (or periodicals) place their contact information on the photo-- so you can contact them to ask permission to use it. Even an artist (How else would you know what George Washington looked like) has a copyright. Some copyrights expire after 75 years, but you can be certain that if the work of art (or photo) is famous, the copyright has been renewed by the estate or business enterprise (Time Magazine for instance).

If using photos for other than "sampling" (i.e., all you need is an example of a woman's shoulder...)then you need to ask permission.