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Re: Re: basing original story on an incident found in newspaper


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Posted by Jim Coleman on January 16, 2000 at 05:40:57:

In Reply to: Re: basing original story on an incident found in newspaper posted by M. Arthur Auslander on January 10, 2000 at 04:32:06:

Be careful of libel and infringing on the person's right to publicity. If your story is based loosely on the incident, your risk is minimal, but if you name names and are so specific that it is clear about whom you are writing, then your risk of suit increases substantially. If, however, you are simply reporting on the incident, then there are First Amendment protections that would apply. It is not really a copyright question because you undoubtedly have copyright in the expresssion of the incident. Your problems lie in other areas of the law. There have been cases in which an author has been successful in recovering damages from another author who wrote a very similar story. Art Buchwald, if I recall correctly, recovered from the movie studio that produced Coming to America on the theory that they stole his story. As to libel, Gerry Spence won a case against Penthouse based on a story they published in which a former Miss Wyoming was described but not named. The story was what you might expect to read in Penthouse. As is the case in any legal situation, there are rules but they are often extremely difficult to apply. If you are concerned, contact a qualified attorney. Good luck. Jim Coleman: Patent, Copyright, and Tradmark Attorney, The Software Law Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota


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