Can I use the names of real people?
Question: I am writing a non-fiction novel using my own diaries as reference material. My question is, can I use the names of real people without their permission? I am concerned that at least one of my 'characters' could be offended by what I reveal and that they could take legal action against me. If it is my story, as seen through my eyes and it is the truth can anyone stop me from telling it?Answer:
I'm not a lawyer, and you should consult one in a case like this. Most likely, if you sell your work to a major publisher, they will have some expertise in this area. In many places, one runs the risk of being sued for libel if you damage the reputation of a living person. There is some lee-way made for political satire of famous individuals.
It's rather similar to the rules of journalism: you must back up your facts and be careful not to insinuate things that are unproven.
Let me recommend a link to an article that talks about this issue...
Again, the laws may be different depending where you live and publish, so you may need a more specific expert opinion.