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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 29814
Experience:  Lawyer
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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.


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.

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