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Legal checks

WritersServices Self-publishing

Picture research and permissions:

If you plan to use any quotes, excerpts, pictures or illustrations, you will need to obtain permission unless you already own the copyright (see our Copyright Law page and Michael Legat's Factsheet on Copyright). Problems can arise in  tracing the rightful owner. Clearing Copyright will give you clear guidelines on how to set about this if you are planning to undertake it yourself.

We offer a service which has a double benefit to you:

  1. First, it saves you time  
  2. Second, by employing a professional researcher you can demonstrate 'due diligence', which is an effective defence if you are later challenged by a copyright holder. 

Do not set your heart on a particular illustration until you have talked to the copyright holder. If you are looking for pictures for your book you can contact picture agencies which provide a comprehensive service.

'Fair Use'

Check that you have not breached the 'fair use' rules when quoting. The rules are subject to interpretation. You can't insert a poem without permission but one of your characters could probably recite a poem if it fitted the plot. It is normally fair to quote a work for the purpose of criticism, review, or if the extracts relate to news or current events. The work must be accompanied by full acknowledgment of the title and author.

We will ask you to sign a declaration to the effect that you have understood your responsibility to check any copyrights you have used (See our Model Release).

Legal opinion:

You need to check that you are not going to be sued. It is your responsibility as the publisher.

Check that:

  • no one has been libelled
  • you haven't betrayed any professional, trade or state secrets
  • no faith group, sect or cult will want to put a price on your head
  • no litigious person will see themselves in any character in your book  

Take a day to read through your work to see if anybody could find it worth suing you. Make a note of any passages that might cause offence. The cost of legal advice is very much related to the amount of reading the lawyer has to do. Draw the lawyer's attention to the passages that may be of concern. This is a very special branch of the law. The fee for such work has to be negotiated as no two cases are the same, but libel readings are very expensive. The need for this service is fortunately rare.

We will require a declaration that you have carried out these checks. 

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