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I want to write a novel about a real event but I'm afraid of the legal repercussions

1 Answers. Asked on Oct 01st, 2017 on Intellectual Property - Texas
More details to this question:
Hi, I want to write a novel about the Hurricane Harvey and Joel Osteen situation which I followed closely. There was a big social media Firestorm about how he did not want to open his church because of his actions on Twitter and Facebook. However, my novel will use different names of people and places, I won't name him directly, but it's going to take place in Southeast Houston and based on the descriptions in the book, people are going to know that I'm referring to Joel Olsteen and his church. When it comes to Joel Osteen and his church I'm going to put information in it based on facts that I seen in the news however, there will be sections where the characters are talking about the possibilities of what was going through Joel Osteen's mind, for instance, one character would say to another character, " Joel Osteen probably didn't want those dirty people to come into the church because of what happened at the New Orleans Astrodome during Hurricane Katrina! " I live in illinois
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Answered on Oct 02nd, 2017 at 9:22 AM

I suggest you not use in your novel the real names of any of your characters.  Also, do not use the name of Olstein's church or give its exact location or the name of the street it is on.  I suggest you take into account that the church was formerly a basketball stadium for the Houston Rockets.  Therefore, it has a large seating capacity but not many rooms suitable for hurricane refugees to sleep, live and eat.  You might also paint the minister as being compassionate but he did not think his facility was suitable for housing refugees.

Also, I suggest you include a disclaimer in the beginning of the book saying that the names, dialog, and characters are fictional although the occurrences described are based in general on a factual occurrence in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. I suggest you have a lawyer with deep experience in copyright law and defamation law review the disclaimer, your story outline and one or two completed chapters of the manuscript before you complete the manuscript.

If you give any interviews that may be broadcast or published in print, I suggest you have a carefully scripted account and that you adhere religiously to the script.   Before the interview, I also suggest you have the script reviewed by a lawyer with deep experience in copyright law and defamation law.

If you are going to have a well-known publisher handle your novel, that publisher will have experienced legal counsel to review your manuscript for potential legal claims against both you and the publisher.

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Intellectual Property
The legal system recognizes the rights of people and companies that invent and create unique works, granting them ownership of those tangible and intangible assets through a number of intellectual property laws. Intellection property, or IP, includes patents, trademarks, copyright, trade dress and trade secrets. Intellectual property attorneys work with businesses and individuals (including inventors, writers, composers, artists and designers) to help protect these intellectual assets. IP lawyers and law firms can assist with taking initial steps to protect assets, while also working with clients to license items and to protect assets that are plagiarized, infringed and/or misappropriated.
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