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Thread: How to write without getting sued...?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    How to write without getting sued...?

    Ok, here is a problem...

    There is a religious 'documentary' orbiting youtube (I will state the title at a later date)
    After roughly 1 hour of non stop laughing and aggression directed at the blatant lies and distortion of EVERY statement made from beginning to end, I have decided to write a book dismantling every single claim and proving it false.

    So the question is ...
    How can I write a book about this specific 'documentary' (or atleast make know that this is a rebuttal for the readers) without getting sued to kingdom come?

  2. #2
    Resident Curmudgeon ResearchGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Block_capitals View Post
    . . . How can I write a book about this specific 'documentary' (or at least make known that this is a rebuttal for the readers) without getting sued to kingdom come?
    Stick to facts and reasoned argumentation.

    Refrain from libel. Refrain from ad hominem attacks. Refrain from defamation of character.

    Consult an attorney if in doubt.

    Recognize that anyone can sue anyone else for anything. Does not mean they'll necessarily win. But they can file suit. Nonetheless, folks engage in vigorous debate about religion all the time without being sued. Have you read Christopher Hitchens' God is not Good? Incendiary. (And grimly funny.) I don't recall hearing of any lawsuits over the book. Ditto for Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion.

    My opinions, FWIW.

    --Ken

    P.S. Be cautious about Scientology. They'll sue at the drop of a hat.

  3. #3
    Girl reporter Gatita's Avatar
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    And remember, even if you win in the end, getting sued for libel is NO fun. Your life can get turned upside down for years.

    Arguing that someone's ideas or religious statements are false or misleading is not defaming anyone, just disagreeing with their opinions. That's not libel, as long as you refrain from name-calling and defaming them as individuals. But if you call a specific person, say, a manipulative liar, you're on thin ice.

    Best to read the libel laws and talk with a lawyer if you're not sure.

  4. #4
    Hot bug on doll action! Use Her Name's Avatar
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    generally healthy debate is welcomed by anyone who believes in free speach. There are appropriate and legal ways to do it. You need to follow the rules.

  5. #5
    Makes people nervous. JoshPatton's Avatar
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    Why focus on this specific documentary? I am sure there are others out there who share the same ideas and notions. Delve deeper than the movie. Do research on those profiled in the piece, really investigate your subjects and, I would believe, that it would be more of an ideological counter-argument than a snarky breakdown of one piece of media.

    Just my opinion.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW
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    I had my nonfiction book vetted by a lawyer--it was about the 1960s and 1970s, rock and roll musicians of that era and a cult. The only change he called for was a statemtent about Eric Clapton.

    Legally, "truth is its own defense" as he said, but what I had writtened/sourced was actually what someone had said about something Clapton had did involving drug use. It wasn't crucial to the story, so it was dropped.

    So, stick to the truth---nothing "subjective"--and you should be okay.

    But certainly have a lawyer vet the entire project.

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