Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 2 months ago

If you published an autobiography  containing serious allegations about people in your past, could they sue U even if U changed their names?

11 Answers

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  • 2 months ago

    Not if you changed their names.  

  • Ludwig
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    They could try, they might even have some success.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    I think it depends how obvious you make it.

    If in real life , you allege John Smith embezzled £50k from the Bank of Scotland

     and you write Ron Smythe stole £60k from the Royal Bank of Scotland, I think they could still sue. 

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Let's start with the basics that if you change the name of a person, you are not longer writing an autobiography. At best, it is a memoir and more likely a work of fiction.

    Anyone can attempt to sue anyone else for liable and or slander.  Whether or not a case goes to trial or the person wins the case would depend on many factors. 

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  • Marli
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    You are publishing the story of your life. Anyone who knows you or knows your past will be acquainted with someone you have written about in your autobiography. Perhaps they might not know the nasty person personally, but you may have mentioned him/her by his/her real name.

    So I would not write down anything [bold print and underline "anything"] that could identify that person, and I would pay a libel lawyer or an editor that deals with biographical books to read your manuscript and point out what could get you sued.

  • 2 months ago

    I participated in a graduate seminar about this and still remember the basics. The law (this is US law) has not changed in the intervening years.

    If you portray real individuals in a negative way, you not only need to change the name but make them unidentifiable. Name change alone is not enough.

    The test of whether you've done that well enough is whether the people who know you, or who know that person about whom you write the allegations, or who *are* that person, recognize who it is.

     If your absolutely truthful story leads to monetary loss for the person people recognized despite the name change, they can sue you and win.

  • 2 months ago

    Yes, if there is sufficient peripheral information to allow readers to draw the conclusion.

  • 2 months ago

    Depending on how broken your legal system is, anyone can sue anyone for anything. But if you publish a book that accuses someone of a serious crime, in order to sue you, that person would first have to find out about the book and decide that a person in the book is them. Changing their name probably isn't enough to prevent this. You'd have to change other identifying details as well.

    If the person decided to sue you, they'd have to convince the court that it's reasonable to assume that someone who knows them or knows of them would figure out that the person in the book is them, and would think less of them as a result. (Libel is written statements that harm a person's reputation.) They have to consider that libel cases tend to attract media attention, and so suing you, even if they win, might cause more harm to their reputation than if they'd said nothing. (Google "Streisand Effect" for examples.)

    Truth is not always a defence against libel. In the UK, for instance, the law takes the view that just because something is true, that doesn't mean that the public has a right to know it. Liberace once successfully sued a British newspaper for claiming that he was homosexual.

  • 2 months ago

    Fiction is safer.  I made someone who messed with me publicly over 50 years ago the namesake of a dynasty of cannibals in a science fiction story.

    In an autobiography changing the names is not all that safe, as there are likely to be quite a few people who know you and can figure out the real identity.

  • jehen
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Truth is always a defense against libel.  But slinging damaging accusations without sufficient proof will get you in trouble if any reasonable person can connect the character to an actual person.  Changing it from autobiography to fiction or memoir (where truth is not a requirement) and focusing on the effects of the events rather than a basis of accusation may get you off the hook.  

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