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SPF-043: Legal Hazards for Authors and How to Avoid Them – with Attorney David Burgess

Defamation of character is not something an author wants – or expects – to be sued for. But as you’ll hear from this week’s guest, attorney David Burgess – a specialist in publishing law – it’s more common than you might think. Most self-published authors write without thinking about the possible legal implications of their published work. Given that a legal action could end up costing you thousands of dollars and threaten your livelihood, it might be worth giving David a few minutes of your time. Expert legal advice rarely comes as cheap as this!

Character defamation and other legal pitfalls

James and David chat at length about the issues of character defamation – both in fiction and nonfiction works – and how careful research and mindfulness during the writing process will help limit potential legal threats. Privacy is another hot potato of an issue. How do you know when your work has stretched beyond the limits of what’s deemed acceptable by law? David provides a useful outline of how privacy laws are viewed in both the US and the UK with tips on how to sidestep problems from the off.

The problem with having a high profile

With writing success comes an increased profile. And that might make you more of a target for unscrupulous lawyers and fortune-seekers who want to cash in on your success. David explains how his work as an attorney helps authors safeguard themselves against such attacks.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:24] Summary of last week’s recording experience and gathering.
  • [1:55] The importance of the “legal” side of self publishing and introduction to today’s guest.
  • [6:13] Why the legal side of publishing can become a big problem if you’re not careful.
  • [10:20] What steps should authors take to prevent legal troubles?
  • [17:30] The issue of privacy: How authors need to protect themselves from lawsuits.
  • [23:23] How legal counsel can be accessible to the everyday author.
  • [26:00] A situation in James’ book he’s probably going to change for legal reasons.
  • [34:19] What happens when authors reject legal counsel they might receive?
  • [36:22] Do you need a disclaimer passage in your books?

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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