PDA

View Full Version : Anyone have some legal advice for me?



TrevorSamuels
06-28-2008, 08:42 PM
I'm thinking about writing a haunted house mystery novel. My brother-in-laws family owns a "haunted" house and I'm thinking of basing the story on that house, as I've heard a lot of rumors about it. Question: Can my brother-in-law's family sue me because the book is based on their house? Some parts (i.e. names of people, location of property, etc.) will be fake, but the description of the house and the goings-on over the years, things people have seen and heard will be true. Any advice?

Steve

blueobsidian
06-28-2008, 09:23 PM
Since this is your brother-in-law, I would say that you don't need legal advice right now, you need communication advice. This is family. Talk to them first! Have you asked how they feel about you using a description of their house in a novel?

TrevorSamuels
06-28-2008, 09:43 PM
I haven't asked them yet, I just came up with the idea this morning. Even if he has no problem with it, the other 9 co-owners could. And even if they all have no problem with it now, they could always change their minds after it's been published.

Maryn
06-28-2008, 10:03 PM
If it were me, I'd fictionalize the real thing enough that I could truthfully say that the house served as a good springboard for your imagination and nothing more. Use the real events and stories, but make substantive changes in each to render it no longer the same haunted house.

At the planning stage, that's easy.

Maryn, leery of litigation even if she wins

TrevorSamuels
06-28-2008, 10:19 PM
What a good idea! Thank you much, Maryn.

Old Hack
06-28-2008, 11:39 PM
Or you could use my isolated, scary, gothic-horror, 400-year-old house as a starting-point, and make everything else up. I won't sue.

TrevorSamuels
06-28-2008, 11:44 PM
Lol, sounds intriguing! Tell me more about the house...

Love your pic by the way!

blacbird
06-29-2008, 01:06 AM
You're proposing to write fiction. Make your story work, and don't get too hung up on a false necessity of adhering to a factual situation. And you certainly don't need legal advice, that I can see.

caw

dgiharris
06-29-2008, 06:01 AM
If it were me, I'd fictionalize the real thing enough that I could truthfully say that the house served as a good springboard for your imagination and nothing more. Use the real events and stories, but make substantive changes in each to render it no longer the same haunted house.

At the planning stage, that's easy.

Maryn, leery of litigation even if she wins


You're proposing to write fiction. Make your story work, and don't get too hung up on a false necessity of adhering to a factual situation. And you certainly don't need legal advice, that I can see.

caw

Ditto, bingo, we have a winner.

Fiction means just that, fiction. As long as you don't use real names, information, etc, then you get creative license to do whatever the hell you want.

Similarly, just to cover all bases, you need to talk to your family as well, just to give them a heads up. Also, if they 'own' a haunted house, they may have great ideas for you. (wasn't sure if this is a haunted house as in Halloween sell tickets, or haunted house as in real haunted house). If it is a halloween type haunted house, then i'd imagine they'd like the exposure.

either way, talk with them and fictionalize it to the point where they can't claim infringment. Fake names, fake counties, etc. etc.

Mel...

TrevorSamuels
06-29-2008, 04:36 PM
Thanks for the tips, I'm going to fictionalize every aspect of the story. That's the safest way to proceed. And yes, it's a real haunted house. News stories have been done on it, and family members have heard and seen, shall we say, strange things. Some people in nearby communities won't go near the place, lol.

Old Hack
06-29-2008, 06:45 PM
Some people near here won't come anywhere near my house, either.

But that's more to do with me than with any ghosts that might hang around.

Glad to hear that you're going to take the best path on this one, TS.

Kalyke
06-29-2008, 09:00 PM
Plagerism is about created works, not about objects. People can't copyright actual events. Look at how many authors have written about people who commit crimes, basing characters on the actions of real criminals. You can use real people, and real objects as starting points for any fiction that you like. That's why people don't invite writers to cocktail parties.

ASRafferty
07-01-2008, 06:36 AM
Not that you'd want to go through the aggravation and expense to watch this work, but a suit wouldn't succeed unless damages suffered could be demonstrated.

(right, I'm not a lawyer, don't play one on tv, yadda yadda yadda....)

Kind of literalizes "intellectual property," doesn't it? Anyway, this is America... if you put the house address in your book, the value would probably triple. <pat pat pat> Gooooooooood brother-in-law! :)

By the way, the other side of this coin gets discussed all the time by photographers taking pictures of private property... some very fascinating gymnastics, legal and otherwise, about ownership of the content of an image (not the image itself, that's the photographer's).

Of course, these guys spend a lot of time in small dark rooms mixing chemicals.

At any rate, good luck with yours..... (book, not chemicals).