From Paris With... Not Love

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From Paris With... Not Love

Postby Neil Vogler » 18 Mar 2010, 04:55

Hi all,

Saw this in The Guardian and thought it comment-worthy.

Crime writer Lalie Walker is in hot water after setting her latest thriller around a famous Parisian fabric store, Montmatre. The owners of the apparently well-loved company that runs the place are suing her for defamation -- because they feel her story shows the fabric company in a less than favourable light. The story involves a killer at the store.

My understanding is that Montmatre is somewhat of a famous Parisian landmark and a well-known French institution. Obviously this court case raises serious concerns for writers -- if you have to seek out approval in advance before setting your novel anywhere recognisable, we may all have to become fantasy authors. As is pointed out in the article, Dan Brown suffered no legal consequences after writing about a murder at the Louvre in The Da Vinci Code.

Interested to hear opinions on this... can you really be defaming a place by setting what it is very clearly a piece of fiction in and around it?

What says the Bransfordsphere?

The original article is here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/17/lalie-walker-marche-saint-pierre
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Re: From Paris With... Not Love

Postby Mira » 19 Mar 2010, 13:59

I think there's a difference between setting a novel in a public place like the Louvre vs. a business.

I can sort of see the business' point, frankly. I think it's better to make up a fictional place, and just avoid all the potential hassle of gaining permission vs. being sued. You can make up a place almost exactly like a real one, change the name and a few details - and there you are.

But a place that's open to and owned by the public, that seems different to me....
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Re: From Paris With... Not Love

Postby bcomet » 20 Mar 2010, 15:24

I would imagine, if it were a love story or something about magical creatures that people loved, that the business might feel very differently.

My understanding is the book said nothing about the business being shady.

Many businesses think free press is pretty cool.
That the business is colorful enough to be a backdrop to someone's imagination: wow.

I used a landmark hotel–one known for ghost sightings–for a few scenes in a novel and changed one of the rooms to suit my needs, but it's not a murder mystery.
The hotel gets tons of visitors hoping to see a ghost there.


It will be interesting, if this gets to court, to see how it settles.

It's my guess that, unless the author is loaded, that the legal move was to insure that the story is understood as fiction so as not to scare off clients who would, understandably, not want to come around a place crawling with crime.
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