1. dastarldycyber

    dastarldycyber New Member

    Sep 1, 2016
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    Writing about companies

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dastarldycyber, Sep 1, 2016.

    Hello folks, I am planning to write a nonfiction book about a company. It will be anecdotal, based on many negative personal accounts which all are found across the internet, with some liberties for storytelling purposes. It's basically just a compilation of negative experiences.

    A book that that comes to mind is Fast Food Nation, which reveals all sorts of horrible things food industry does, with a lot of personal accounts. It gets away with doing what I described above.

    Now, my question is, what are the precautions this author took so he didn't get sued for smearing on these big companies? what laws protect him?

    Another question I have is, since I am going to quote and "rewrite with storytelling in mind" a lot of the negative accounts I'll find online, do I need permission from those people before I base my rewritten anecdotal stories on their experiences?

  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Jul 5, 2010
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    California, US
    Here's the thing - if a company want to sue you for defamation, truth is an absolute defense to that. if you're pulling anecdotal accounts from the web, you have no way of verifying whether they're true or not. If you publish accounts in your book that turn out to be false, you could be liable for it (there are a lot of issues that come into play, so I am going to leave it at "could"). If I were you, I'd leave out instances I couldn't verify as true, or else be very careful about how I approached them in the book.

    As for permission to use the people's accounts....maybe. It's hard to answer that without seeing their accounts and seeing your end product.

    And there is always the caveat that the company could sue you even if they didn't think they had the strongest case, and even if you won you'd spend a lot of money in legal fees if the case went to trial.

    All of which are issues to consider, not admonitions against writing the book.
    Sack-a-Doo! and tonguetied like this.

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