1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Legalities of Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by lostinwebspace, Jun 5, 2014.

    Is there a site anyone can suggest that I can reference for legalities on writing? Things like what and how much is fair use, what is libel, when can I mention the name of a product or person and when such a mention might get me in trouble, what are my international rights, etc. I've found a few sites via Google, but I don't know how trustworthy they are. They could just be something dashed off by a person who doesn't know what he or she is talking about.
     
  2. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Doesn't libel, slander and/or defamation need to be based on lies?
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only way is to discuss your concerns with a literary attorney, either before or after you finish your manuscript. Personally, I would avoid mentioning names of anyone I have something bad to say about, this includes brands, private and public figures. If you intend to use a real life situation in your fiction, and it can lead to people involved to be recognised in any way, that can get you in trouble. You can mention brands and public figures in a positive light, but they can't be characters in your story (unless you write a satire). Everything under copyright is not subject to fair use, and claiming anything that you didn't write as your own, regardless of copyright status, is plagiarism. This may or may not result in prosecution, but it does ruin reputations. As for your 'international rights' you need to be more specific what kind of rights you mean.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yeah, when in doubt, consult an attorney. Even the advice given by a reputable site might not be specific enough for the question(s) you have in mind.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should start here:

    www.copyright.gov
    www.uspto.gov

    if you're in the UK, the british library website will provide info on the copyright laws...

    there are also a few good legal info sites where literary attorneys provide general facts... just be sure it's a reputable one before taking anything stated there as gospel...

    and the bottom line, of course, is to do what thirdwind said above, when in doubt...
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, truth is always a defense. But keep in mind that, in the US at least, having to defend oneself in a lawsuit can be as financially devastating as losing one. So, ditto what @mammamaia and @thirdwind said.
     
  7. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Oh, I know that it's better to avoid it all together. I won't use an actual product or person and would avoid making a character too close to a real celebrity, except in one case, I have this idea...

    My main in a subsequent story meets and works with James Bond while investigating the source of a economic takeover by an unknown entity. However, instead of naming him, he simply says "double oh my, fancy meeting you here." Plus the possibility of his name being Sunder, rather than Bond.
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    James Bond is not a real person. You cannot "libel" a fictional character. But you may have some other problems.
     
  9. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Not if it's hidden well. Alan Moore did quite a few cameos (Mary Poppins, etc). All fictional and possible owned by someone (Disney).
     

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