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Question
I have an acquaintance from 34 years ago whose adoptive mother passed away recently. The mother's story is very compelling. Does the daughter have legal rights to the story by virtue of being the daughter? If so, how do I protect myself from her selling the story to someone else should I decide to write it? Should we enter into a contractual agreement as co-writers? I will need to get the material for the book from her.

Answer
Good Morning Ric,

This is a common concern when writing an auto-biography, or memoirs. If you need to get information from the daughter, approach her and tell her that you wish to write this autobiography using her as a resource/reference only and would she mind. You can add a tribute or recognition of her input under "thanks" or "dedication" pages in the completed novel. You could title it up as "Jane Francis" an autobiography as told by her daughter... It's still your work.

As for legal rights to the story by virtue of being the daughter, I would say no. As I'm not sure where you are located, copyright varies from country to country and you should check with a lawyer who handles copyright in your area to be certain. Only you could answer the question of whether or not you wish to co-write the story. Many writers have sat down and written life stories of others using family as resources or references. I believe the only one who could have given this concern an issue would have been the mother herself if she were still alive, as it is about her. However concerns for her estate or relatives creating problems, I would say no.

Fascinating idea you have, I hope it pans out.

Regards,

J.L.

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J.L. Slipak

Expertise

Novel writing is my specialty but I've several articles advocating for human rights and the rights of special needs. I've also written children stories, historical romance, fantasy, trilogies, and non-fiction. I have editorial experience and have worked with literary agents, self-publishing, publishing companies in both the United States and Canada. I imagine I can answer any questions asked about this field, and if not, can direct the question to someone who could.

Experience

six articles, two novels, three children's books, two triologies and currently working on an auto-biography

Education/Credentials
BFA, working towards my masters

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