We have a game that requires players to refer to a list of celebrity and/or cartoon characters by name. The names simply show up in print alone, along with a short, original description of the entity.
I'm not worried about the celebrity names so much as I am the use of cartoon character and/or puppet names, as those in themselves are copyrighted works. The use in itself is a game, not a cartoon, movie, or the like, so I would think it to be both "transformative" and not in direct competition with profits of the original copyrighted characters, but I could be wrong.
From my understanding, the fair use doctrine on copyright use follows the following:
- the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
- the nature of the copyrighted work;
- the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
- the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Answering the above in terms of the game (from what I think):
- It is commercial, however...
- It is transformative in nature (not a derivative) of the copyrighted work
- It is not very substantive, since it's only a reference to their names
- The game would not seem to be in direct competition with the markets of the cartoon characters/celebrities/puppets