AWP Panel: Legal & Ethical Issues to Consider When Writing About Real People
Writing about real people—living, dead, or even fictionalized—creates special risks that can result in costly damages and legal fees. It’s essential for authors to take the proper steps to protect themselves. Authors Guild Executive Director Mary Rasenberger will moderate a discussion about the basics of the laws surrounding defamation; risk mitigation tactics such as media liability insurance; how much can be changed before a memoir is no longer a memoir; and some ethical considerations that can arise outside the realm of the law.
Jill Bialosky is Vice President and Executive Editor at W. W. Norton & Company. She has edited numerous memoirs, including Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn and The Bishops Daughter by Honor Moore. She is a poet, novelist and author of two memoirs, New York Times bestseller, History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life and most recently, Poetry Will Save Your life.
Umair Kazi is a Staff Attorney at the Authors Guild, a writer, and a translator. He received his JD from University of Iowa College of Law and his MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University School of the Arts.
Ellis B. Levine, a partner of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard, served as Vice President, Secretary, General Counsel and a member of the Board of Directors of Random House, Inc. from 1989 until 1998. He primarily represents book and audio publishers, authors and literary agents.
Mary Rasenberger (moderator) is the Executive Director of the Authors Guild. Prior to joining the Guild, Mary practiced law for over 25 years, specializing in media and copyright law, and served as senior policy advisor for the U.S. Copyright Office and program manager at the Library of Congress.