|Libel toe ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
What Is Libel?
Types of Libel
The Elements of Libel
Four Simple Tips for Avoiding Libel
- Write the Truth – Even the smaller white lie published in your memoir can having you in court fighting a libel suit. The person this tiny white lie was written about can suffer from a defamation of their character. If everything written in the memoir is absolutely true, you lower your chances of being sued. And, if someone does attempt to sue you anyway, the truth will be your best defense for winning your case.
- Change the Names – Changing names of the people, places and entities in your memoir will help to protect you. This may seem as if it's a untruth. Maybe it is. But, the way this works is quite simple. Everything that you write in the memoir must be the truth, except the places and the names. If done properly, this will protect the people you've written about from being recognized by other family members, co-workers, acquaintances, employers, neighbors and anyone else they wouldn't ordinarily share personal information with about their life. You can keep the places the same, if they're integral parts of the family memoir. However, if you can, this will help to conceal the identities of those you've written about even more.
- Obtain Legal Advice – If you can, you should show your finished manuscript to an attorney. They will be able to give you better insight as to whether you've written something that may be considered libel. If you prefer not to use an attorney, there are other libel experts that can assist you.
- Get Release Forms – Either have your attorney write up a release form for you, or you can do it yourself. Have every person mentioned in the family memoir sign one of your release forms. Signing the form gives you their written permission to use their information, life history and name in the memoir. Then, if it ends up having negative consequences on them, they can't sue you for it. If they insist on reading it before signing the release form, go ahead and let them. You never know. They may decide to add some extra details to their part of the story that will make the book even more exciting and juicy.