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A Brief Note On Defamation And Privacy Are Real Risks

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Sedwick also claims that defamation and privacy are real risks to consider if you seriously damage someone’s reputation when writing about identifiable and living people. For example, Sedwick suggests if writers intend to use recognizable people in their work, you should try and get a release from them, and if that is not possible change the person’s name and as many similarities and characteristics that may be defined as identifying; the less identifying characteristics, the better. Sedwick asserts that under United States law, “To prove Defamation, whether libel for written statements or slander for spoken ones, a plaintiff (target) must prove all of the following: False Statement of Fact…, Of an Identifiable Person…, That is…show more content…
Public conduct is not protected, especially with the abundance of technology and social media. Most everyone has a phone with a mic and camera in their purse or pocket, at any given time. When in doubt, a release should try to be obtained if there is a possibility of a person being recognized in one’s work. If a release is not possible, consider changing as much as possible of all identifying characteristics. (Sedwick) Sedwick opens her article with a great example of a famous defamation suit, The Red Hat Club Trial, where a woman claimed she was falsely portrayed and was awarded $100,000 by a Georgia jury. This is a good example of the need to change identifying characteristics where a panel agreed that the author libeled her friend with a characters depiction. Vicki Stewart won a defamation suit against writer, Haywood Smith who created a character that resembled her. Not just a little bit, but according to the Gainesville Times, “The "SuSu" character in Smith’s humorous novel about Buckhead socialites shared more than 30 similarities with Stewart, including where she grew up, the jobs she held and how her first husband died. Stewart sued for defamation because SuSu is portrayed in the book as a sexually promiscuous alcoholic.” (gainesvilletimes) Exposure and embarrassments tend to keep many people from
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