How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Lucy, Esq. Your Own Question
Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27621
Experience:  Lawyer
26798026
Type Your Legal Question Here...
Lucy, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Can a novelist use my personal emails about my life and

Customer Question

Can a novelist use my personal emails about my life and family for her novel where my exact life and even maiden name are used but I'm portrayed as a horrible person doing things which I did not do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

A person cannot publish false statements about someone else that tend to damage their reputation. If it's clear to people who know you that the book is about you, you may have a cause of action for defamation of characters. Even if the emails themselves are true, if they are put in a context or edited in a way that's altered their meaning, then that's a privacy violation. It's called false light. You would have the ability to sue for either or both, and both torts carry both compensatory and punitive damages.

If the book hasn't been published yet, a local attorney may be able to help send a "cease and desist" letter to the novelist and her agent or publisher if she has one. If she's planning to self publish in the near future, you may be able to seek a Temporary Restraining Order that prevents her from publishing the book at least until she changes the main character's name and enough to make people not think it's a story about your life.