Do I have to hire an attorney if a book was written with my name all throughout without my permission?

UPDATED: Aug 22, 2014

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Do I have to hire an attorney if a book was written with my name all throughout without my permission?

It’s completely slandering me and my reputation. What do I do?

Asked on August 22, 2014 under Personal Injury, Idaho


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you are being defamed (defamation is when your reputation is damaged by what someone else says, if it is untrue--see below; slander is oral, or spoken defamation while liable is written defamation, so what you describe may be liable), then you could sue for damages, or compensation. You do not need an attorney if you're going to sue--you are allowed to represent yourself, or act as your own lawyer--but it is a very good idea to have an attorney.

Note though that not every negative statement is defamation. Defamation must be an untrue factual statement which damages your reputation. True facts, no matter how bad, are not defamation, and someone may write about them; opinions, no mattter how bad are not defamation either, and somone can write about them, too.

So, for example (and to use an admittedly somewhat extreme example):

Say that a person was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Someone could write a book or article saying that person was a member of the Klan, and that would not be defamation, since it is true fact. It would also not be defamation to say that the person is a racist, since that is an opinion. But it would be defamation to write that the  person had participated in hate crimes if that person never did, since to write that someone committed hate crimes when they did not is to make an untrue factual statement which damages reputation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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