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N Cal Attorney
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Category: Intellectual Property Law
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I am an independent film maker based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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I am an independent film maker based in Charlotte, North Carolina. A friend of mine was a victim of violent abuse for years. After she finally escaped her abuser, she became a police officer. Years later, when her former abuser murdered a woman, my friend's testimony about the violent behavior of the former abuser earned him a 2nd degree murder conviction. He is half way through an 18 year prison sentence now. Here is my question.

This is a powerful story. My friend and those close to her have signed agreements to let me tell their personal stories in order to make a short film on these events. Should I be concerned that the abuser in prison can take any legal action against me for creating a film that would identify him for what he did?
What about if I kept all the names the same except for his?

Or should I just change all the names & places to be safe? The only problem with that is that I believe the fact that this friend has shared her story publicly before could help promote the film.

Thank you.

Terry Prince
You have a First Amendment right to make an accurate documentary, and N.C. has a "Son of Sam" law that is intended to prevent convicts from profiting from the stories of their crimes, see
http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1113&context=mulr&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dson%2520of%2520sam%2520law%2520north%2520carolina%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D1%26ved%3D0CD MQFjAA%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fscholarship.law.marquette.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1113%2526context%253Dmulr%26ei%3DfFlwUa7vBYayigKypYHwAQ%26usg%3DAFQjCNFv8mO9cz1YAwFd2tEr8kIgRc1SWg%26bvm%3Dbv.45373924%2Cd.cGE#search=%22son%20sam%20law%20north%20carolina%22

Anyone can sue anyone at any time, but I do not think the convict would prevail if he sued the filmmakers. The fact of the conviction and sentence are public records, and the filmmakers would have defenses based on the First Amendment and the "Son of Sam law".

I hope this information is helpful.
N Cal Attorney and other Intellectual Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much for this detailed answer! Its very helpful


 


Have you ever heard of a convict suing someone who wrote or created a film that told about them?


 

Have you ever heard of a convict suing someone who wrote or created a film that told about them?

 

No.

 

 

Thank you for the excellent rating!

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