1. Mordred85
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    Mordred85 Active Member

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    Questions regarding a book based on actual paranormal accounts..

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Mordred85, Sep 24, 2015.

    So, I've always contemplated writing a book based on "true" ghost stories and paranormal accounts. One of the major reasons holding me back is how little I know about the legalities when dealing with this kind of stuff. The reason I posted this in RESEARCH is because many of what the book would contain would be researched material from online, books, magazines, etc. So, someone familiar with publishing stuff containing lots of research might know what I'm trying to do here.

    -Do I need to obtain legal rights for writing and publishing specific stories?

    -How do I know what paranormal accounts I'd need legal permission for?

    -Do I need permission from everyone involved in the alleged account for writing and publishing their story?

    -How about some events like possession, etc that have been published in previous books? Can they also be used and cited?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
  2. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    You could include a bibliography similar to historical fiction and scholarly journal articles.
    You would need permissions to re-print exact accounts, unless you are only using a few examples and small quotes at which point you could cite your source in the text.
     
  3. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    you do not need to do any of that. Because they are "accounts" they are not copyrighted, in the same way that a car crash cannot be copyrighted. Just put the standard disclaimer at the end and no one can do anything about it, as long as the names are changed.
     
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  4. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    Don't use real names and you're good. This is the entire premise behind Law & Order.
     
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  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe @Steerpike can offer some advice? He's a lawyer (I think).

    Anyway, do you really wanna trust the advice of forum users who haven't studied literary law? Go consult one if you're serious about your project. You don't want to get sued.
     
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  6. Mordred85
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    Mordred85 Active Member

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    True, I'm just trying to see how everyone else would go about this. Thanks for the feedback.
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think @Jack Asher is right...if you're quoting something that's come from somebody else's book, that book will be copyright. You'd either need permission, or you can quote short extracts (I forget how short) as long as you give the attribution.
     
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  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I don't think that's what he's talking about. If someone writes a book about an account, say the killings of Jack the Ripper, those killings are not copyrighted, though the words to describe them are. As long as @Mordred85 is planning on using actual accounts given by real people, there's no reason to fear infringement.

    Again, unless he copies the accounts in the book verbatim.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Copyright aspects wouldn't really worry me. I'd be looking more along the lines of potential Right of Publicity or Defamation claims, which can vary according to state law.
     
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  10. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this bears repeating, and it has historically been the common answer to these types of threads. Regardless of how knowledgeable anyone on this forum seems or truly is, there's no way for you to know who's right and who's wrong. If you have a question about literary law, talk to a literary attorney. We may or may not be qualified to answer your question. A literary attorney is definitely qualified.
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You haven't actually said if your book is going to be fiction or non-fiction. You said it will be 'based' on actual paranormal encounters. If you're using this research as a basis for creating fiction, I don't imagine you'll have any problems as long as you don't use real names and make sure the real people involved can't ever be identified.

    If you're writing non-fiction, however, I suggest you read up on the subject of attributing sources.
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A forum can be a wealth of knowledge, it's called crowdsourcing and there's no reason to dismiss all the advice/information with the wave of a hand. Instead learn how to think critically about the advice/information. Have you communicated enough to trust the member has some expertise to share? Can you use the advice as a launching point for further inquiry?

    Take the question in this thread. @Steerpike has given lots of advice on copyright, he has demonstrated legal expertise. @jannert's point makes sense that non-fiction might require investigating the proper means of attributing the stories. @Jack Asher is right that a story is not the same as copying text. But that can lead to asking oneself if story rights are needed. It's logical that would only apply if the story was clearly attributable to a person such as if you use real names, or you use something so unique it identifies people. @Steerpike also mentioned Right of Publicity or Defamation claims, perhaps @Mordred85 hadn't thought about that.

    The forum advice then broadens one's view about what to consider, what to look into. Maybe the terminology improves a Google search: Right of Publicity, who knew?

    Yes, one needs to be very careful getting legal and medical advice on a forum, but that shouldn't mean you can never use the advice you do get.
     
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  13. Mordred85
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    Mordred85 Active Member

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    Exactly why I started the thread. Thanks for understanding and thanks for the help.
     
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