Sister's memoir - invasion of privacy

My sister has written and self-published a memoir that is going to be released soon. It details the physical and sexual abuse by our father (who is now deceased) from our childhood. She never asked my permission, I did not sign a release, and I know from other sources that she uses our real names in the memoir. Do I have any legal recourse to stop her from releasing the book with my name?

Asked over 3 years ago in Florida
Categories: General Legal Questions  Family

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Frederic M. Douglas

Answer by Frederic M. Douglas

VerifiedCalifornia lawyer

Since you appear to be in Florida, you should seek the advice of a Florida attorney.
Here are some things to consider to prepare to take with a Florida attorney, who should be able to respond directly on these points:
Usually, it is not permitted for a court to block publication of something before it is published. Unless there is a very good reason, one must wait until something is published and then assess whether it is permitted (1st Amendment right to press and free speech).
What contractual rights do you have to prevent statements made in your sister's memoir? If you have no contract, you have few rights.
Defamation? Is she saying something that is true? If so, you will have a hard time stopping her from publishing something or suing her for defamation over something that is not false.
Invasion of privacy - Is it really "private"? If she is your sister, she knows some things about you that others don't know. But she has no legal duty to not disclose what she already knows. If she records or photographs you in situations wherein you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, then perhaps she would be invading your privacy.

As your rights are most likely limited, after talking to a Florida attorney, I believe that you should try to work things out practically with your sister. Maybe you can ask her, "Hey, are you going to mention my blankety-blank situation?" Maybe she isn't really going to implicate you directly in anything. Another thing to consider - who will read this memoir? Is it likely to be a NY Times Bestseller where the world finds out about it? Will it be posted on the Internet where strangers can find out about it? Will anyone really read it? If the audience is limited, you might not suffer too much damage and you may end up denying that the book is telling any truth.

Posted over 3 years ago

Please note that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to you. Legal advice pertaining to your particular situation can only be provided by a lawyer who has met with you to obtain all pertinent background information necessary to give you a formal legal opinion. For formal legal advice, hire a lawyer (many give a free first consultation). Contact Frederic M. Douglas, or search the Lawyer Directory.

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