Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ToeKneeBlack, Apr 13, 2016.
Just to clarify: Is the proscription being demanded in work that is work-work, or in your personal work? If it's work-work, then yes, I think they can diffidently make demands given that they are technically the end client, but if it's your personal work I don't think they have leg to stand on.
Are you writing fiction or some texts that are used in the school?
How did the complainant know the name involved a student request?
This is absolutely not a violation of data protection. It's absurd.
But only you know what would happen if you refused. Would they drop it or would there be ramifications?
Yeah, I think it's a lovely gesture for a pupil with low confidence. It's a shame your "line manager" is being so ridiculous.
Has the manager really told you that you can't use any name that is used by any person associated with the school? Or just that you can't carry through with your plan to name a character after this specific student?
They seem like different things. Yes, I realize that if you name a character "Mary", there's probably a "Mary" at school, but that Mary presumably never asked you to name a character after them. Since this student actually asked, I can see how it's different.
Does your manager know that your student asked you to do it?
Lol. I've never heard of a rule like this. I don't get it. What's his problem? Did he at least justify his reason? Data protection? What does that have to do with using a requested name? He should look up what data protection means.
What legal claim do you think they could bring? If they were to fire you over this you might have a claim against the school.
Reading your posts which leave a bit out, @ToeKneeBlack, you may be expanding the request beyond it's original meaning. This is what I gather that may be wrong but for what it's worth:
Line manager hears from kids that character Judy (or whatever the name is) is really kid Judy from class and tells you to take the name out.
You think that means don't use any of the kids' names.
Change that one name, carry on and see what happens.
Why don't you just deny the student ever asked, and it was pure coincidence? What record is there that proves the student ever asked?
Anyway yeah, probably not worth fighting this as I imagine it's probably a cameo or minor character anyway, right? I don't think your manager could demand this of you but it's not worth the ramifications you'll face at work. If this line manager is your superior, you're just asking for trouble as he can make life hell for you, I'm sure, even if he doesn't have a legal leg to stand on regarding this name thing.
I feel as though it could be a little hairy if you're naming characters after students. For some reason it just pings my 'Stuff teachers shouldn't be doing' detector.
I say this also as a teacher of kids.
Yes, but in this case someone actually did ask you to use their name, and you agreed. I'm fairly puzzled as to why you're extending this to what someone could lie about. They actually asked, you actually said yes, and your manager is saying, well, no, you can't do that. I'm not clear on why you're making this bigger than that.
I name fatally destined characters after my enemies.
Oh, I don't think that it's the least bit dangerous either. But I don't think that that's the lack of danger is an obvious unarguable fact. If the pupils are minors, I can see that the school might feel that a decision to ignore the situation was outside their authority, and that they weren't interested in soliciting permission from the parents. Even if the pupils are adults, perhaps the school perceived some vague potential liability.
I think that they saw the choice between (1) incurring some minor liability, or (2) going to some trouble to eliminate that liability by getting (or ordering you to get) written permission from an adult pupil or the parents of a minor pupil, or (3) ordering you to eliminate the whole issue, and they went with the third option.
This is a difficult one. There have been numerous characters named after people in the past, but usually, those names will have been submitted be people as part of a competition, and the person submitting their name, is over 18 and therefore classed as an adult able to make these decisions.
So anything that would mean a child is making those adult decisions, flags up the PC brigade.
If the character and the child share more than just a name, (like age and general description) then it could be argued that you are writing a fictional story about the child, so unless you have a parent/guardian's approval to do this, you may have a problem. Also, were you planning on putting anything in the dedication/foreword that the character was named after this pupil? Again, parental consent would most likely be needed.
If it's just a case of a name, and only a first name, then there really shouldn't be a problem. There could be numerous children (and even teachers) in the school with the same name, that's just coincidence.
To be on the safe side, naming a character after anyone, is something I would stay away from, there's just no telling what the ramifications are going to be.
Slightly off topic, but I also work in an education establishment, in a kitchen, and we've just had a memo to say that, among other things, we are not allowed to:
1. put our place of work on any social network profile.
2. discuss work related topics on any social network (even though we can't put on there where we work)
3. befriend any person who uses our services.
4. befriend any suppliers.
5. discuss people we work with.
6. make derogatory remarks about colleagues or service users.
and that we must always be:
1. mindful of anything we post online which may have comeback to our employers (again, even though we can't put on there where we work)
2. using social networking on our own devices in our own time (I do agree with this one)
I'm not sure our employees are legally entitled to place these restrictions upon us, but I for one, am not willing to find out what they will do if I break any of their rules.
@cutecat22 they don't want things you say on social media to be associated with the workplace. They don't want an appearance of impropriety due to worked being friends with people at other entities in the supply chain. They don't want to be subject to claims of a hostile work environment as a result of things said about co-workers on social media outside of the work space. &c.
@ToeKneeBlack yes the school is being overcautious. Many schools are in this area, worried about running afoul of FERPA, for one thing. In this case it would be hard to see how your use is a violation.
I think they're overreacting, but I don't find the overreacting even a little bit surprising. When an organization sees the faintest breath of possible risk, and they have the power to eliminate that risk, they're likely to do so.
The interesting question is here is whether they really have any legal power in this instance. I don't see it, offhand. On the other hand, even without legal recourse they can certainly make the employees life miserable and that's power in and of itself.
If it is outside of work, and there is no personal effect to the person in question. Then you should be good. Sounds like you should not have to worry about what name you use. I am sure I have made up characters with 'real' names of people I don't even have a clue about. So what can they do to stop you considering it is only a name, and not a literal interpretation of them nor an attack upon them.
So use what ever the hell name you want, even if you have consent to use a real persons name. After all you do have that persons permission to use their name, and as long as they are of legal age (18) you have a verbal contract of sorts. So your butt is covered, case closed, end of the story (so to speak ).
Bottom line is you can do what you wish with in the boundary of the law, which you are. At least that is what I assume. (No wise crack on this one please. )
I appreciate that, but you are supposed to be able to separate work and pleasure. The latest thing the bosses are now saying, is that if we go on a night out as a group of work friends, our line manager is responsible for us all. What a crock?? We are all forty somethings responsible for ourselves!
Back to the op, I would still shy away from naming a character after a child, and if I'm naming one after an adult, I would change it so that the character had absolutely nothing in common with the "real" person.
(I named a male character (Jesse) after my daughter (Jessica). And I've recently given my friend's name, (carol) to a character (Carol-Anne) as she gave me the idea as to the character's job.
I wouldn't name a character after someone. But if you want to, why not? As long as there are no safety or privacy concerns.
There's a parallel here to the laws of libel/slander...
I make a slanderous allegation about you to a mutual friend. You find out and bring an action against me for slander. I defend the case on the grounds of justification, i.e., you really are the product of the union of a man and a woman who weren't married. You prove (DNA tests, marriage certificates, etc.) that your parents WERE married, so you win your case. AND damages will be higher because, by claiming my slander was the truth, I have re-published it to a wider audience, so the damage to your reputation was higher.
I make the same slanderous allegation. You bring the case, which I do not defend. The judge may now reduce any damages (perhaps as low as the figurative peppercorn),or he may even throw the case out of court, because you chose to make a public case about it, thus publishing the slander yourself.
People can be jerks. If the student gave you permission to use their name in the book I don't see why you can't.
Why not have them read the book if they're so paranoid about it. I can understand if the character was portrayed in such a way that made them look bad, but if the character isn't doing anything irrational I really think your "Line Manager" is being unreasonable.
Did they even give you an actual reason why to remove it, because if they're not giving you a reason then this whole situation just seems plain dumb.
Separate names with a comma.