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Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


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Old April 9th, 2004, 08:03 AM   #16
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Just read a couple Clancy books, or the Last Jihad, and you'll see that you can make up pretty much whatever you want about governments or countries. They don't have privacy rights.
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Old April 9th, 2004, 08:19 AM   #17
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Thanks very much for everyones help.

Sincerely,
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Old April 9th, 2004, 09:43 AM   #18
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Oh well, we can always go as far as the "government" would let us.
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Old April 9th, 2004, 10:04 AM   #19
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"Just read a couple Clancy books, or the Last Jihad, and you'll see that you can make up pretty much whatever you want about governments or countries. They don't have privacy rights."

True that governments don't have privacy rights, but if you publish fictions about specific government members as facts, you might provoke legal action against you. Members of Parliament and scions of ruling families don't liked to be libeled any more than the rest of us.

This might be less of an issue in the United States than it is in Britain, where libel law puts the burden of proof on the defendant to convince the court of the truth of every alledgedly libelous assertion printed. (UK Random House division Secker and Warburg recently withdrew from British publication the Craig Unger exposť House of Bush, House of Saud because of likelihood of being sued by Saudis in British court, a financially draining proposition regardless of the outcome of such a case.)
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Old April 9th, 2004, 11:35 AM   #20
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Well, that is why the US has the 1st Amendment to the Constitution -- Freedom of Press/Speech.

In fact, back before "some people" emmigrated to this country and changes things forever, politicians here were said to set up presses simply to libel one another -- free exchange of ideas and information, be they truth or less so. The "sanity check" is not with the courts (controlled by those in power), but with each reader and voting citizen, whether he choose to believe what is published or not.

In my "extensive" international travels, I find that people in other countries like England and those in the Commonwealth are more "technically" educated, but people in the US are more "street-smart" educated, because we are often forced to made decisions from a very young age about people matters ourselves, less so than having "1 + 1 = 2" shoved down our throats.

No intent to criticise one system or the other, just discussing the merits of libel laws in different countries affecting societies.
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Old April 9th, 2004, 02:03 PM   #21
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Law, you might be interested in this discussion that I just posted:

Two reporters have their tapes erased by security at Justice Scalia speech.
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Old April 9th, 2004, 02:23 PM   #22
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Certainly individuals have privacy rights. But even then the first amendment protects people from criticizing them (and it would protect you, even against foreign leaders, for speech you make in America - it wouldn't, of course, protect you from getting sued overseas if jurisdiction were established) or even, in some cases, writing fictional stories involving them.

In the case of outright falsehood, there are parody defenses as well and, again, the seminal case is Hustler v. Falwell. So, for instance, we can have a book that specifically talks about Saddam Hussein building a nuclear weapon and attempting to launch it at New York, and there's nothing he could do about it since it's clearly fiction. If the New York Times, however, falsely reported that Saddam was planning to nuke NY with no evidence, theoretically he could have a libel claim (of course then he'd have to prove his reputation was damaged, and that would be pretty hard for him). But I could write fictional stories about Saddam and pretty much make them as disgusting as I want. I mean, Hustler had a story about Falwell having sex with his mother in an outhouse. It doesn't get much worse than that, and the Supreme Court said it was protected speech.

Anyone remember the movie Contact? They actually used footage of President Clinton in scenes that he clearly was never involved in. But he has no right to privacy in that context because of his public stature. Even if they had portrayed him in a bad light, I don't think he'd have a case because of Hustler, unless it was intended to convey fact and truth and not merely fiction.

Governments, societies, communities, etc. don't have privacy or publicity rights. Only individuals and private entities do. And the more public the individual, the less protection he gets.
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