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Real Life

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Poet deVine
Member Empyrean
since 05-26-99
Posts 25869
Hurricane Alley

0 posted 11-24-2000 07:20 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

I have a question. If I read a news article about someone, it that public domain? Let's say I read about a woman who gives birth in a department store. Can I use that in a story? What if someone commits a crime, can I base a character on that criminal? If the names and/or circumstances are changed a bit and it's no longer 'true' would I still be able to use that story? I used a real incident in a poem and never got in trouble so I'm wondering if any rights are violated if the story is public domain.
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

1 posted 11-24-2000 08:20 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

"Names of characters have been changed to protect the innocent..."

If I whisper, will you listen?...
I would rather be silent and write, than speak loudly and be bound.

Member Seraphic
since 08-22-99
Posts 23002

2 posted 11-24-2000 09:11 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Probably just like everything else in the 'legal realm' an argument could be presented supporting both sides of the issue. Who knows, I guess if it came down to it, it could all depend on what side of the bed the judge woke up on that particular day.

Member Rara Avis
since 07-22-99
Posts 9561

3 posted 11-24-2000 10:26 AM       View Profile for WhtDove   Email WhtDove   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit WhtDove's Home Page   View IP for WhtDove

Good question Sharon. I don't know. Will be interesting to see if someone does.
since 06-29-2000
Posts 484
Houston, Texas

4 posted 11-24-2000 01:26 PM       View Profile for Rex   Email Rex   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Rex's Home Page   View IP for Rex

PDV....You would have no problem doing that. If you do not use names, it is neither libelous nor defamatory.
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Member Rara Avis
since 06-07-99
Posts 7296
America the beautiful

5 posted 11-24-2000 01:35 PM       View Profile for Elizabeth   Email Elizabeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Elizabeth's Home Page   View IP for Elizabeth

Have any of yourever read the books by Mary Higgins Clark? She has admitted that some of the ideas for her stories are based on real cases. As far as I know she hasn't had any trouble.

(Although when I base characters on real people, even slightly, I would hope that they or anyone they know does not find out! But then that's just me...)

Dopey Dope
Deputy Moderator 1 Tour
Member Laureate
since 08-30-2000
Posts 15536
San Juan, Puerto Rico

6 posted 11-24-2000 02:20 PM       View Profile for Dopey Dope   Email Dopey Dope   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dopey Dope

........good luck on not being legally prosecuted...hehe

I was born myself, raised myself, and will continue to be myself. The world will just have to adjust.

I hate your socks. I'd like to burn them!

Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

7 posted 11-24-2000 04:24 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

There are two ways, I think, to approach this, one perfectly safe and the other pretty much safe.

Perfectly Safe: Change the fictional representation of the character and events so much that no one could possibly recognize your source (especially your source). Unfortunately, this isn't always possible. Sometimes, a characteristic of your source is both very recognizable and yet vital to the story (else the events would not have unfolded the same way). Sometimes, a characteristic is unique and unerringly identifies the source (if you base a story on Neil Armstrong, making your fictional character the first man to walk on the moon might let the cat out of the bag). But I think these are unusual circumstances, and in MOST instances any character or sequence of events can be changed enough to make them, if not unrecognizable, at least very questionable.

Pretty Much Safe: Don't even try to hide either the characters or events, but instead report them as news. News, in and of itself, cannot be copyrighted, and anyone is free to report and even interpret current or past events. The caveat here, as in any reporting, is to scrupulously avoid libel. Be very, very sure of your facts.
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