DIY Legal: Telling the Truth Without Paying for It

Adapting a true story for film can be tricky. On the one hand, reality can be extremely powerful—fact is often stranger—and even more entertaining—than fiction. On the other hand, moviemakers may open themselves up to legal threats raised by the real-life subjects of a true story.

Most documentaries show some slant in the way they present a story to further their theses. Likewise, fictionalization of true events in a narrative film can result in the altering of facts. Both mediums can therefore subject their creators to claims of defamation, right of publicity, and right of privacy claims—exactly what a moviemaker doesn’t need after the arduous process of finally getting to the finish line.

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