How can I stop a book?

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Ro_S
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How can I stop a book?

Postby Ro_S » Thu Mar 03, 2022 11:41 am

my horrible aunt wrote a horrible book about her family. Lots of things in the book are wrong or lies. Not just opinions but things that can be proved. My aunt is now dead, but it was written with another person, maybe two others.

now we have learnt that a co author is trying to sell the film rights! so we want to put a halt to that immediately.
can anyone tell me if it is possible to do this and what type of lawyer we need to speak to? libel or something else? grateful for any pointers.
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Spenner
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Spenner » Mon Mar 07, 2022 7:34 am

I’m not a lawyer but I’ve worked in publishing for twenty-odd years so I know a little bit about this and a few questions occur. Is it a memoir or a novel? Is the family easily identifiable? Are the people mentioned in the book dead or alive? Essentially if it’s a novel, you will find it very difficult to prove it’s defamatory and if it’s a memoir and the principle offence is caused to people now dead, the law of defamation doesn’t apply. Memoirs often involve creative versions of a person’s life too - you will often find a legal disclaimer about this if you look at the beginning or end of a memoir.

Fundamentally, unless your aunt’s book was a bestseller it’s unlikely to be optioned for film or tv, and if it is it’s unlikely to be made at all, and if it is made it’s unlikely to be in the form she wrote it - names and details almost always change. If you or your family didn’t sue over the book it will be more difficult to take legal action at this stage and it’s likely to be very, very expensive.

If you’re on good terms with the co-author, raise your concerns and ask for specific changes to disguise you and your family rather than trying to block the whole project. Now is the time to make a deal, if they want your permission to go ahead, but meet them halfway as much as you can. Otherwise you can contact the producer directly if it is optioned and in development, and raise specific concerns. But a word of advice - your anger with your aunt is not a reason in law for a deal not to go through. It could actually feed into publicity around the book and adaptation. Try to approach this calmly and set aside your resentment to think about how this might actually affect you and your loved ones. If your main motivation is not wanting the co-author to benefit from this situation, legally and morally you might have to come to terms with your feelings and let it go.
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Commonality
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Commonality » Mon Mar 07, 2022 7:51 am

Agree with the above and would just encourage you on that last point above as this can be quite a gossipy world and you definitely don’t want to feed any publicity in the unlikely etc - work on your own feelings before any conversations. If you need to, write out everything you feel and might *want* to say, every point on which she upset you and your family with this, and then let that be your getting it out. Script something entirely different for any meetings, so that you can be calm, dignified, and not in any way attract gossip or a publicity line.
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AKA
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby AKA » Mon Mar 07, 2022 8:39 am

I work in this world too and Spenner’s advice is spot on. Many many projects go into development and never make it beyond a first outline let alone onto screen. An ‘option’ is the first step on a very very long ladder to production. If you can find out how far this project is in terms of its development then it might put your mind at rest.
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betterannabel
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby betterannabel » Mon Mar 07, 2022 9:27 am

You came to the right place for advice. What's the title of the book?
vivre rire l'amour
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Ro_S
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Ro_S » Mon Mar 07, 2022 2:01 pm

Thank you very much Spenner, Commonality and AKA for your informed and considered advice.

Betterannabel - I do not want to give you the exact title but it is 'Something something - the life of Jane Bloggs'

It is a memoir. It includes names, surnames, even photographs of many people mentioned. Some of these people are dead, others are alive. At the front is a paragraph which reads 'All the events depicted in this book, my autobiography, are real and true, and they have been experiences I have had. Events before my birth have been stories passed down to me from friends and family.'

Below this it says: Autobographical material written and arranged by [Mr Y]

Edited, and additional material written by [Mr X the co author].
This is the person we have the issue with. He is the brother of a recent acquaintance who arrived in my aunt's life very recently and basically enabled her to turn her long held grudges into written accusations and present them as the truth. He did not attempt to fact check anything with anyone.

You are right that we don't want him to profit from this. But the main motivation is to prevent the accusations from spreading any further and if possible to give some compensation to my cousins who have had their names and their parents names rubbished. I am not angry but I do want to stop this if possible. I should also say that my aunt was mentally disturbed and many things she has written can be proved to be fabricated or imagined. Also that she writes about a historic incident that may be of interest to many people hence our fear that it could find a market. Along the lines of Asians fleeing Kenya in the 1970's, not that but similar.

Not sure if the information here changes anyone's views?
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Ro_S
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Ro_S » Mon Mar 07, 2022 2:02 pm

Thank you very much Spenner, Commonality and AKA for your informed and considered advice.

Betterannabel - I don't want to put the exact title out there but it is 'Something something - the life of Jane Bloggs'

It is a memoir. It includes names, surnames, even photographs of many people mentioned. Some of these people are dead, others are alive. At the front is a paragraph which reads 'All the events depicted in this book, my autobiography, are real and true, and they have been experiences I have had. Events before my birth have been stories passed down to me from friends and family.'

Below this it says: Autobographical material written and arranged by [Mr Y]

Edited, and additional material written by [Mr X the co author].
This is the person we have the issue with. He is the brother of a recent acquaintance who arrived in my aunt's life very recently and basically enabled her to turn her long held grudges into written accusations and present them as the truth. He did not attempt to fact check anything with anyone.

You are right that we don't want him to profit from this. But the main motivation is to prevent the accusations from spreading any further and if possible to give some compensation to my cousins who have had their names and their parents names rubbished. I am not angry but I do want to stop this if possible. I should also say that my aunt was mentally disturbed and many things she has written can be proved to be fabricated or imagined. Also that she writes about a historic incident that may be of interest to many people hence our fear that it could find a market. Along the lines of Asians fleeing Kenya in the 1970's, not that but similar.

Not sure if the information here changes anyone's views?
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Spenner
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Spenner » Mon Mar 07, 2022 9:04 pm

It sounds really unlikely to have broad appeal for a TV producer, honestly - was it self-published? Does anyone involved have a literary agent? I would wait and see if anything develops and approach the production company with a list of the factual errors if it is optioned. Collecting the evidence will give you something useful to do - because it is a frustrating situation to be in, and you have my sympathy. Everyone tends to believe they have interesting family stories but the Gerald Durrell kind that make for good TV are few and far between, so hopefully you won’t need to produce any evidence and the book can fade into obscurity. I hope that helps!
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Ro_S
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Ro_S » Tue Mar 08, 2022 9:54 am

Gerald Durrell - if only!

Agree that the family stuff alond would be of no interest to anyone and the book itself is horribly written and badly organised. However, the experience it gives of her living through the historical and cultural context is something that is very likely to have broad appeal.

You say we could approach the production company with a list of the factual errors if it is optioned, but I don't expect this man will notify us in advance. Maybe we should send a solicitor's letter and get him to confirm he will not pursue it further.

In any case thank you all for your help and advice.
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Spenner
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Spenner » Tue Mar 08, 2022 2:00 pm

I would suggest setting up a google alert to see if a deal is announced - maybe for your aunt's name and the title of the book and the co-author. (I can't remember how to do this but I think it's very easy!)

I completely take your point about the interesting circumstances but be comforted by the fact that production companies generally try to avoid historical settings because they're so expensive to film. If you think about the historical dramas that get made they tend to be solid gold brands like Agatha Christie which will sell worldwide, and only very expensively made dramas can feature things like wars. Very often production companies specify that they won't look at historical scripts at all. 

It's totally up to you to decide about a solicitor's letter or not, but based on what you've said my feeling would be that this will be unlikely to get optioned anyway - so it might be a complete waste of money - and an interesting historical period is likely to have novels, high-profile memoirs and history books written about it, all of which are an easier sell to TV than a memoir by someone who has sadly passed on which takes time to settle old scores with the family. It feels like very wishful thinking on the part of the co-author! If he does have an agent, I would suggest you contact them, mention the family's wish to be left out of the narrative, and ask to be kept informed about any deal or script. If he doesn't have an agent I would think he has zero chance of any production company taking him seriously.

It sounds very stressful and family issues are always affected by emotions so it makes it ten times harder than if it was a business problem. I do hope it works out for you.
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Ro_S
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Ro_S » Thu Mar 10, 2022 10:50 am

Spenner, thank you very much for taking the trouble to talk me through the industry process. That does really help. Google alert is a great idea. Perhaps we will send one letter to make him nervous about taking things any further. Thank you again. Very much appreciate your knowledge and advice.
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Aganimjuice
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Re: How can I stop a book?

Postby Aganimjuice » Mon Jul 04, 2022 4:07 pm

Omg, it’s such a strange situation. But your aunt was right for telling many lies in her book because a real-life is often boring, and nobody would read that. I think you should talk to the co-writer and clear the situation, then find a person who gave the book as a scenario for a film. Then, if you can’t find a solution, you should hire a lawyer to protect your rights and privacy. If you fail to win a case, I can assure you the book lovers never watch films on the books readen not to be disappointed, lol. I understand the importance of reading and will never exchange it for some movie. It’s incomparable for me. But I hope you’ll solve this issue!
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