Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Character By One's Own Name

Now let's see if I've got this right.

A writer creates a character. Let's call him Joe Bloggs. If there is a real person by the name of Joe Bloggs out there, and he feels that the way character Joe Bloggs acts in the book tarnishes his name, he can sue the publisher of the book.

In theory then ... if a writer creates a character with his own name (as Paul Auster does The New York Trilogy for example) ... and that character acts in such a way that he injures the real life reputation of the author ... the author may then sue his own publisher for damages.

Worth trying if you're short of a few bob.

10 comments:

counterrestrial said...

Wow... what a scam, that sounds like something out of the Producers.

lainieyeoh said...

lol...brilliant way of putting it..

Sharanya Manivannan said...

Jonathan Safran Foer named the title character in his book "Everything Is Illuminated" after himself, which made me assume while watching the film version (haven't read the book) that it was autobiographical. In different cases, that might have been manipulative (i.e. making the reader regard a novel with the gravity accorded to a memoir).

By the way, I really really loved the film and recommend it. Such a profound movie, but with a heart of much humour and joy.

The Eternal Wanderer said...

I agree with counterrestrial...what a scam indeed! More reason why I don't think I'd like to name a character after someone in my book... was thinking of naming a tyrant in one story I'm writing now Zak Maderos (after Zakaria Mat Deros!)

Rob Spence said...

But Joe Bloggs wouldn't win, would he? Not unless the book Joe Bloggs did things associated with the real Joe Bloggs. I wonder - how about creating a fictional character called OJ Simpson, who kills his wife and her lover - and gets away with it? Do you think he'd sue?

bibliobibuli said...

counterterrestrial, lainie, ew - i hasten to add no-one has ever done it!

shraranya - i just bought 'everything is illuminated'. goodness knows when i will get round to reading it though

rob - that's such a good idea - someone should just grab it and run with it!

Spot said...

I don't think the suit would succeed...it'd be thrown out for bad faith. It's what we call going to the court without clean hands and trying to take advantage of a situation of your own doing.

counterrestrial said...

Actually this is kind of like the James Frey controversy, the writer profits from making himself look bad in both situations.

Speaking of O.J., It looks like they aren't going to publish that despicable "How I could have killed Nicole" book after all. Do you know that he has nothing to lose even if he admitted to killing her now? He can't be tried twice on criminal and civil court.

animah said...

Of course not. Agree with Spot. But then I'm talking about a lawsuit in a country based on common law. God knows how the US courts might view it.
Eternal Wanderer - brilliant name. Go for it !!

The Eternal Wanderer said...

Hahaha, Animah, I guess I will after all! He'll be in one of my many stories in progress... :p