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I am writing a book regarding the arrest and ultimate incarceration of my mother-n-law, but her sons feel that i need to get permission from them.  I was told that i didn't because what i'm writing about is public info. it does include some excerpts about her life. am i doing the correct thing?

Dear Sharon,

In this case, I would err on the side of caution. I'm not a copyright attorney, but I would suggest you contact one regarding this, because the people involved are still alive, and at the very least, I would think you would need to get her sons' permission.

Perhaps you can find a better answer from someone on this website who specializes in copyright law -- I'm sorry I am not able to help you more.

All Best,
Catherine Van Herrin

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Catherine Van Herrin


I am an American-born, native English speaker with a BA in English and more than 26 years of professional editing, writing, and proofreading experience. I have edited several books and book-length manuscripts. References and titles available upon request.

For further work or assistance with larger projects, see my profile here, with 190 excellent reviews: WordChannel Professional Reviews, Ratings

I can use British-English or American-English, and I am very familiar with Chicago and AP style.


More than 26 years' U.S. publishing industry experience, editorial (print). I provide crystal-clear, clean grammar; strict attention to style, consistency, flow, logic, accuracy, and spelling, and I work quickly and efficiently.

I do not format or provide technical assistance in publishing books. I use MS Word only.

If I can help you further, contact me at the website above (create a job request) or write to me at My rate is $0.008 per word. Send requests/inquiries to I accept currency only through PayPal, with 50% of the total at project initiation; the balance is due upon project completion.

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AA, Liberal Arts, Anderson College, Anderson, South Carolina. BA, English, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia. Post-graduate concentration: Post-war Irish poetry and early 18th century English fiction, Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas.

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I have worked with authors in the UK, Canada, the US, and several other countries. References and titles available on request.

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