Many authors assume the legal disclaimers at the front of their books are supposed to be boring. They presume some pricey lawyers devised standard legalese, and they dare not depart from the norm. The law does not require a disclaimer to be boring. In fact, just the opposite is true.
My main character is loosely based on a real person. What can I do to prevent this? For a novel, or other fictional work, to be actionable, its detail must be convincing.
The description of the fictional character must be so closely aligned with a real person that someone who knows that person would have no difficulty linking the two. And, there must be an implicit belief that what the author said — notwithstanding her denials — was true.
What about a fictionalized autobiography? Despite the breathing space the First Amendment affords writers, not all libel-in-fiction lawsuits are resolved in favor of the author or their publisher partner.
From a libel defense perspective, this drawn-from-life portrayal failed, in part, because the author included personal characteristics that made the plaintiff recognizable, and mixed them with other traits that were false and defamatory, but, still believable.
Are you sure you never identify the real person who inspired your main character? You might consider transforming him beyond recognition. A broadly drawn caricature of your friend, which is difficult to reconcile with your ex-friend, can be an effective device to stave off a libel lawsuit.
For example, Kim Pring, a former Ms. Wyoming, sued Penthouse over an article that described Ms. On appeal, however, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision; holding that no reasonable person could believe that was described was actual facts.
Embrace tastelessness — if done properly it can take the chill out of free speech. If done improperly, and the hypothetical reasonable reader thinks your failed parody conveys actual facts, the First Amendment may not be available to you. When it doubt, have the book vetted by a publishing attorney.
With regard to option drevenge is best served cold at your publication party -- preferably with a Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer. Disclaimers, while helpful, are by nature, self-serving. While a disclaimer cannot insulate you or your publisher from a libel suit, it may support the defense that identification with the real person in your novel is unreasonable.
In addition, a full disclaimer should appear on the reverse title page of your novel, or skillfully integrated into the introduction or preface of your book.
Change the physical characteristics of your main character enough to disguise his identity. Create a Frankenstein monster.
If the work is not "of or concerning" an identifiable person, you have a complete defense to a libel lawsuit based on fictionalization. As such, they make terrible plaintiffs -- but excellent targets for vengeful authors.
And remember, he who laughs last, laughs best. I would be remiss if I did not bring up three other legal horrors. First, the law of defamation is not concerned with who you intended to target, but who gets struck by your barbed arrow.
What that means is unintentional defamation is actionable. If you shoot an arrow in the air, where it lands, not where you intended it to land, is all that matters. Lawyers who vet, and writers who write, need to watch out for innocent literary bystanders.
While publication of truthful information is generally considered a full defense to libel, private individuals can sue for highly offensive or embarrassing truths. It is related to the right of privacy. Fortunately for novelists, due to free speech considerations, courts historically construe publicity rights narrowly.
If you feel uncomfortable with the legal minefield of libel, right of privacy and right of publicity law, consult a publishing attorney. A publishing attorney can evaluate or vet your manuscript, and suggest ways to mitigate or avoid many of risks of writing about real people and actual events.
As they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.Writing a novel is all about details and this counts double when history is involved.
I'm personally a fan of shoehorning famous events in my books. I start by outlining the story I want to tell before looking at the time period it's in. For example, for my novel The Kennedy Secret the era was the summer of “Fictional events” disclaimer.
At the end of the credits of every movie, I read the message saying, "The events depicted in this movie are fictitious. Here’s my disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and by presenting to you these sample disclaimers—all taken from published books—I am not suggesting you cut and paste them into your book.
Only with the advice of a competent attorney can you decide which disclaimers your book may or may not need. Disclaimers for Fiction. Every reader is familiar with the typical fiction disclaimer.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Writing a novel is all about details and this counts double when history is involved. I'm personally a fan of shoehorning famous events in my books. I start by outlining the story I want to tell before looking at the time period it's in.
For example, for my novel The Kennedy Secret the era was the summer of Dec 28, · The five scariest words in cinema: "Based on a true story." That familiar disclaimer is so ubiquitous as to be virtually invisible. But consider those five words more closely: At once grandiose and weaselly, full of both historical gravitas and mushy ambiguity, proclaiming both fact (it's a true.