1. sneaky21
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    sneaky21 New Member

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    Legalities

    Discussion in 'Research' started by sneaky21, Aug 24, 2008.

    I have been working on a script and I'm concerned about legal issues that might result from production, if it ever happens. I have turned observations I've made at work in to scenes and developed characters from people I work with. Some of the things I have witnessed border on or are illegal. I do not use real names but, anyone I work with would be able to tell who the characters are based on. If I change the scenes to disguise actual events or change the characters to disguise the people, then the script doesn't work. Truth really is stranger than fiction. Am I asking to get sued? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    From what I can glean from the information you gave, short answer: yes.
    If the characters doing 'illegal' things are your workmates and you know that they and anyone else who knows them will be able to tell that it's them, not only are you looking at being sued, but you're looking at getting them into serious trouble. It would definitely pay to change a few attributes to disguise your characters.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you write fiction using identifiable people, bad idea. You might be fine, but it's a huge risk.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all of that!... not a good idea, unless you have a melvin belli or gerry spence on retainer...
     
  5. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Umm... This is a tricky question.

    Are you basing the characters on them, or just retelling events that transpired.
     
  6. sneaky21
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    sneaky21 New Member

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    The "illegal" activity is only within the confines of the workplace. Against company policy. Affairs, sexual favoritism, harassment etc. I have been basing some of the characters on actual people and retelling events that transpired. Embellishing a bit for some events, but most of the activity I couldn't make up.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That could easily fall under defamation of character, specifically libel.

    In a libel lawsuit, the plaintiff doesn't have to prove that what you wrote isn't true. You have to prove that it is true!
     
  8. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    What you would need to do is remove any distinguished traits that would lock on to them as a person. IE: Distinct style of dress, exact physical descriptions, names, things like that, you would need to fix the 'chairacters' so that you could be talking about "anybody" and are NOT talking about anyone, real, alive or dead.

    If it is easy to peg them as the people you are talking about, well Cog said the lawyers would come, and if you insulted or caused hardships to them, expect those lawyers to ransack you and a jury full of sympathetic people that most likely would not want someone like you do go and blabber about all the things they may have 'done wrong'

    So keep them VERY obscure or even do what ever you can to eliminate any resemblance to them and just recreate the situation using totally different 'people' then they need to prove that you in fact talking about them or just making it all up.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the bottom line is that if anyone at all can figure out [or even guess] who you've written about, you can be sued... and you'll have to come up with the huge sums of money it takes to hire a good enough attorney to fight the charges... and even if you win, you'll still be out a big chunk of change and your life... if you lose, you can be working for those libeled folks for the rest of your life...

    is it really worth the risk?
     

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