I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. Please consult with your attorney for any and all legal questions you have.
Today’s post is not in Q&A format because, well, you’ll see…
It happened again. I had to cut another author loose for potential legal liability. Why?
1. The author shared VERY personal information about friends and family members, including the illegal activities performed by one of them.
2. The author claimed she changed everyone’s names…but she didn’t change her own.
3. The author would be promoting the book under her own name so anyone who knows her would probably be able to figure out who the other people in the book are.
4. She refused to get a signed release from those friends because she KNOWS none of them will ever sue her.
Yeah, she really wrote that.
I have previously written about this topic using different scenarios from questions I’ve received in the past. Those posts include:
- Don’t Invite Lawsuits by Real People Featured in Your Book! (Hint: You Can Still Be Sued Even If You Don’t Name Them!)
- 12 Ways to Avoid Getting Sued When Writing Your Memoirs by Angela Hoy, WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com
- Boldly Assuming You “Can’t Be Sued” Will Likely Lead to a Lawsuit
- Publishing Other People’s Non-fiction Stories Can Get You Sued!
- Want to Get Sued? Write About Your Ex!
- Am I at Risk of Being Sued?
- Did Your Lawyer Say, “You Can’t Be Sued?” BEWARE!
- “Can I still get sued by someone I wrote about in my book if I give away copies instead of selling them?”
What still always shocks me is when authors assume that someone who is their friend today will still be their friend tomorrow. We’ve heard of family members suing authors for what was written, even when names were changed. Heck, we’re pretty sure we’ve seen and heard just about every possible scenario with regards to libel in books just from our research for WritersWeekly’s In the News column over the years.
So, when authors come to me with these problems, I’m always gobsmacked when they flat refuse to take my advice even though I tell them they’re about to step into a big steaming pile of legal poop.
On a similar note, one author told me this week that he’d have never signed our publishing contract if he’d known there was a libel clause in it. Just…WOW.
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
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I always believe that your friends are your worst enemy’s if you rat on them personnel or written on their past or future. Your best friends will sue you and win out of your pocket as you will be the loser. Talk to an attorney and get the facts before you publish an article or book.
Okay, but tell us why their problem is your problem and why you care if they are stupid and get sued?
Because the plaintiff will sue the publisher as well.