1. Computersleuth
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    Computersleuth New Member

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    Issues with Libel on Public People

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Computersleuth, May 29, 2011.

    I am writing an historical fiction novel. Much of the book covers prominent personalities in government and banking - figures such Clinton, Bush, Greenspan, etc. Note that they are still alive.

    Objectively, I can point to mistakes and/or corrupt behavior by these people - obviously no chance of libel since every public action that I cite will be the truth. But my question goes to private conversations that I invent that these people have - amongst each other or individually with other people. These are conversations that I want in my book - the conversations are a figment of my imagination but are congruent their public behavior.

    In some of these conversations that I write, I want them to use dialog that shows their implicit corruption - in other words, it would show them in a bad light.

    Please know that my actual objective is to show the larger culture of money and power - it just so happens that these people are good examples of this culture.

    I am aware that it is not libel if it is the truth. I am also aware that it would not be ruled libel (in a court of law) unless the plaintiff (Bush, for example) demonstrates that my presentation of him is both false and that it was done with malice.

    My question is this: if I imagine, write, and publish dialog within my novel that depicts these people as corrupt, am I opening myself up for a libel suit?

    What will a prospective publisher do when faced with a manuscript such as this?

    Thanks in advance for whatever thoughts or information you may have . . .
     
  2. JeffD
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    JeffD Member

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    Oliver Stone directed a movie called W back in 2008. Stanley Weiser was the screenwriter. I don't think either of those two were sued for libel and most of their dialogue was made up more or less. Go check it out if you would like.
     
  3. FedRafaFan
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    FedRafaFan New Member

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  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't worry much about it, given the raised standard of proof imposed upon public figures. The only thing to keep in mind, I suppose, is that a civil suit for defamation will be expensive to defend, even if you end up winning in the end.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you need to be asking a literary attorney/solicitor about what you can and can not do without getting sued, not members of a writing site...
     
  6. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Oliver Stone's movie was quite sympathetic to GWB, there was no point to sue him for libel.
     
  7. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    The only suggestion I may give you is to get documentation and actual evidence that they can back your shoulders in the case you go to court. If all you said is true nobody can sue you for libel, unless you're in Bielorussia or Ukraine.
     

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