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View Full Version : my story, legal issues, where to start



jjsoars
10-11-2004, 08:04 AM
I have been contemplating writing my story for many years. It is a very sad and difficult story dealing with rape. I have read on the board about peoples names being changed for legal reasons. I would prefer to keep the names the same, but I'm not sure they would ever sign a waiver, especially if they knew what it was for.

My purpose for writing this story is for others in similar situations, so they know they are not alone and that there is hope.

Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

aka eraser
10-11-2004, 11:18 PM
The truth is a defense against accusations of libel.

I would focus on writing the story the way that feels best to you. Just get it down on paper. When you're done, send it out to agents and/or pubs. If the pub's legal department has issues, you can deal with them then, with their help.

Job One is getting it written. Accomplishing that may prove to be at least cathartic. Then let the experts worry about legal tweaks.

Good luck.

Writing Again
10-18-2004, 05:31 PM
Truth is a defense against libel and slander -- But not against invasion of privacy.

If the person you were writing about was convicted you should have no problem. If you mention the person had two children and a wife, the wife and children might or might not have a cause for action for invading their privacy.

That being said, I agree with the eraser. Write it first, worry about the fine legal aspects later. You can always go over the ms later. You can always circle, highlight, or make notes about anything you think might become a problem.

You might also check what parts are "public record." In most cases you can use anything that is public record, that anyone would have access to if they looked, without worry for either libel or invasion of privacy.

Public record usually includes, but is not limited to, court records (except in juvenile cases, etc), statements made to the press or in interviews, etc.

If Jane Doe told a reporter she saw a large green man in a fluffy pink coat running down the street and it was printed in the local newspaper, it would be hard for her to claim you defamed her or invaded her privacy by repeating it.

Once again, I'm not a lawyer, and once again, that is why publishing houses keep lawyers on hand who are experts in just this area of law.

Jamesaritchie
07-04-2005, 04:29 AM
I have been contemplating writing my story for many years. It is a very sad and difficult story dealing with rape. I have read on the board about peoples names being changed for legal reasons. I would prefer to keep the names the same, but I'm not sure they would ever sign a waiver, especially if they knew what it was for.

My purpose for writing this story is for others in similar situations, so they know they are not alone and that there is hope.

Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

If it's your story, you can write whatever you want. Right to privacy cannot take away our own right to write our life story. If it's someone else's story, change the names, unless you have the permission of the central character.