If I’m writing a Book about a famous Russian Oligarch, and want to know if he can sue me for the storythat Iwrite?

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If I’m writing a Book about a famous Russian Oligarch, and want to know if he can sue me for the storythat Iwrite?

I’m writing a fiction book about the childhood of a famous Russian Oligarch. I want to use his real name and all known data (he is very secretive about his past life), but the story I wrote by itself is made-up and fiction, although it’s based on how most likely his childhood life would have looked like. My question is – if I use his real name in the title and story – can he sue me for making up a story about his life?

Asked on October 31, 2010 under Personal Injury, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Leaving aside non-legal, but real practicalities and concerns, such as whether you want to use the real name of a secretive and rich person who comes from a nation with a weak concept of the rule of law and jucstice:

1) If you say anything that could be taken as a factual assertion which damages his reputation, the oligarch could sue you for defamation. While the truth is a defense to a defamation claim--i.e. it's only defamation if its false; a true factual assertion might be unflattering or damaging, it is not defamation--it can often be difficult, especially with secretive people, to prove the truth of your assertions.

2) Depending upon what information you do divulge and how it is obtained, it is possible that some of it may be give rise to an invasion of privacy claim.

This is probably a dangerous thing to do on several levels.


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