distribute copies or publish it, have you thought about getting legal releases from your friends?
Here are some scenarios that may behoove you to get releases:
Friend 1 lets you write about his heart condition. Later, he finds that the book, which may have been published in print or online contained excerpts of what he told you. This was easily found by an insurance company and he lost his insurance coverage and claims were denied because he had not disclosed this heart problem in his application. He could go on to say that you, the author, never explained that this excerpt in the book could lead to this problem, or he could claim that he never actually signed any contracts that authorized publication of the story. Bingo, you may have a lawsuit on your lap!
Friend 2 discloses to you that he had secreted assets or money away while going through his divorce. His ex-wife finds out through your book and sues your friend for failure to disclose. Your friend may have a change of heart about the story he gave you and it being featured in your book. He may be looking for compensation from the author for his legal trouble.
Why all these dark scenarios? We live in the good ol’ USA, where lawsuits are the order of the day. People get desperate for money and will sue anyone, including your publisher, to get a buck. I am not saying that these scenarios can lead to a successful lawsuit; but, testing the waters alone will cost you legal fees in defense of the lawsuit. Just watch the celebrities and their reactions (read that as, _lawsuits_) about articles about them in the press. There are numerous incidents where even family members are later embarrassed by your revelations about an unplanned pregnancy, sexual child abuse, or some other kind of story that may be seen as an invasion of privacy.
There are some things you can do to protect yourself as an author. One is to anonymize your story, but this article is not about doing this.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This means that you hire an attorney to draft a simple release that includes giving you and your publisher permission to publish the person’s story, or details about their life. This should, an attorney would tell you, include a release for any and all claims so you can close the door to future lawsuits.
So the rule is: anybody can sue you for anything. Telling the truth does not protect you from a lawsuit. It might protect you from losing, but there is this matter related to proof and how a judge or a jury
looks or weighs it, and if it goes that far, you will have spent thousands in legal fees. You can avoid this by simply getting a standard release from all those who contributed to, or were featured in, your book.
_Our firm handles legal matters related to Intellectual Property for clients. If you are interested in the preparation of a release such as in the story, or the filing of a Copyright for your intellectual property (Copyrights protect books, songs, photographs, and other original works of authorship); or, the filing of a trade-name or trademark (this protects your brand name and/or logo, for example) for your business, please contact us so we can help. _