PDA

View Full Version : Changing names



mihc
01-14-2007, 01:17 AM
I am going to ghost write my husband's memoir.

His family is probably the worst I have ever heard of, and a lot of the things in the book could cause legal trouble for the family. For example: mom knowingly let 13 year old daughter have a sexual relationship with 13 year old boy, knowingly let a bunch of teens (15-17) have an acid party at their house and use a closet as a hot-box for marijuana.

Is changing names enough? Will the details in the book cause legal issues for the family?

johnrobison
01-14-2007, 01:40 AM
My brother wrote a book in which many of the same things happened, and he changed the names of the people, but he did not change the town.

It has since spawned a lawsuit, and the outcome may set some precedents for this sort of memoir writing/disclosure. The people inhis story argue that their idenity was not sufficiently hidden and they have suffered harm as a result. Have they really? I don't know. It's for a court to decide.

Remember, for someone to sue you they would have to show that they were harmed by your book. The mere fact that you exposed what they did 30 years ago would not be enough.

One misconception is that "truth is an absolute defense." While truth may defend you from libel, it does not defend you from invasion of privacy claims.

mihc
01-14-2007, 07:05 AM
Hmmm...there's no hiding 'mom' or 'dad' though. Should my husband use a pen name? Is that acceptable for memoirs?

johnrobison
01-14-2007, 08:52 AM
There is nothing wrong with using a pen name for most people and places. My brother changed his name.