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Privacy rights in fiction : FAQs • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Privacy rights in fiction

Frequently asked questions. Go HERE and read the first thread.
KnightWriter
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Privacy rights in fiction

Postby KnightWriter » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:19 pm

After reading the "True Story" article by Elizabeth Sims in this month's Writer's Digest I noticed she didn't discuss anything about privacy. I suppose using false names would kinda avoid the issue. But, given....someone, somewhere will say something. Especially if it involves some type of medical experience. Would creating a fictional account based on such an instance be a violation of medical privacy or the HIPAA laws?

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mammamaia
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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby mammamaia » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:45 pm

sorry, but you're not being specific enough for me to answer that...

a fictional account of what?... and involving whom?... if it's about a person other than yourself, you could be in trouble if the person you based the character on can be recognized by her/himself or anyone who knows them...

the laws you refer to cover doctors and hospitals, not writers... and an invasion of privacy suit can be launched by anyone you use as the basis for your story, so it's always best not to do so unless they're a public figure and all the info you use about their actual case/situation has been made public...
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KnightWriter
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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby KnightWriter » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:59 pm

Thanks mammamia for your fast response. I didn't know you guys work this fast here. I'm still a new kid. I meant like if someone witnessed an autopsy and didn't know anyone's name or anything identifiable. It plagued my mind if I attached some randomly created name, negative repercussions would arise. But, seeing as how they can...it's best to avoid this project. Thanks for shooting that down. I can focus on plenty of other topics now.

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pls
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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby pls » Wed Feb 20, 2013 1:36 pm

In general, you can write about any "public" figure in a non-fiction piece, as long as you don't attempt to libel them obviously or create falsehoods presented as fact.

In fiction, however, it's best to "change the name to protect the guilty", not to mention identifying characteristics, if your piece reveals them in less than a favorable, personal light. But why would you, anyway, except for political or personal gain purposes?

Also, today's public figure is tomorrow's historical figure - using, say, our current president as a character in a novel would result in a stale figure in just a few years, unless you're writing about a historical figure - as in "Lincoln, the Vampire Slayer" or whatever the title of that work is. You can't libel a dead person. I think.
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TerryRodgers
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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby TerryRodgers » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:50 pm


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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby TerryRodgers » Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:51 pm


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DrG2
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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby DrG2 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:02 pm


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pls
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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby pls » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:27 am

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DrG2
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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby DrG2 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:04 pm

In my WIP historical fiction novel, I'm using one fictionalized version of a real person whose name I've changed. I don't think it will be hard to figure out who he is, for how many people coin the same word? OTOH, Queen Victoria will be presented favorably, so she keeps her name, and because I can't call her Queen Buffy and still have the novel set in the Victorian age.

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Re: Privacy rights in fiction

Postby pls » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:11 pm

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