Would Amazon Let Me Publish Semi-True Erotic Fiction?
February 27, 2013 12:02 PM   Subscribe

I want to anonymously publish sometimes-true Kindle singles of hookup stories. Some will be true, some will be fiction. But I want to use a real name for each, a la Marie Calloway's Adrien Brody piece. Are there legal repercussions? Would Amazon take my single down?

I know fan fiction uses copyrighted characters so it's not allowed, but these wouldn't be characters. Also asking after seeing a piece on XOJane that talks about hooking up with a "celebrity" but the name is never given -- what if she had just inserted 'Brad Pitt' into her story (which is also part of a Kindle Single)? Are there any possible legal repercussions to keep in mind?
posted by anonymous to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

You're not very clear in this question about what you're planning on doing, most of us have no idea who Adrien Brody and Marie Calloway are.

I Googled it so you guys don't have to--Marie Calloway wrote a questionably-fictional account of a romantic affair and published it as fiction, giving her lover the pseudonym Adrien Brody, which happens to be the name of an actor.

I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that if the person you're writing about is very obviously NOT the person whose name you're using ('"Oh, mamacita,' whispered Brad Pitt in his seductive Latin accent" or "I met this guy on Craigslist--I'll call him Brad Pitt, since he was a dead ringer for the actor") then you're probably OK. If you're writing a work of fiction in which people might think you actually are writing about the person whose name you're using, then you do get into potential defamation territory. It's the resemblance here that matters more than the name--you could not use a real person's name at all, but if you're writing nasty fictional stuff about them and the person is recognizable, that could still be defamation.
posted by phoenixy at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2013

Eh, Adrien Brody is an A-list celebrity; most people who know who Brad Pitt is will know who Adrien Brody is.

Still not clear what the OP's question is here. Perhaps Amazon has some guidelines which address this question. Failing that, I'd suggest that the OP contact an attorney familiar with this type of question.
posted by dfriedman at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2013

These are two kind of different scenarios to me - I am not a lawyer, I just read a lot of women writing about hookups.

1) In the "Adrien Brody" story it was a true-ish story about a not-very-famous blogger, and Marie Calloway replaced his name with Adrien Brody (kind of like that one Tao Lin book where the main characters were named after actors) - but it was very obviously not the actual Adrien Brody she was writing about, she was just using his name as an artsy placeholder. (Actually I think she originally used the dude's real name, but then she pulled that version to publish the Adrien Brody version?)

2) If I'm remembering right, in that XOJane story it's implied this is a real celebrity that she actually hooked up with -- I think if you wrote a story that implied you actually hooked up with Brad Pitt and fictionalized some details but implied that it was true or potentially true, I would imagine that this would be legally pretty dubious.

(On preview: basically what phoenixy said.)
posted by SoftRain at 12:42 PM on February 27, 2013

If you are proposing to publish "hookup stories" concerning real events using the names of people who were involved, then you should definitely speak to an attorney.

I am an attorney, but not yours. The issues that might be involved with this idea are often and widely misunderstood on the Internet. I would not suggest you try to understand them by chatting on a discussion forum like AskMe or by reading an article on Wikipedia, or even by reading an article on a good website. If I am misunderstanding what you're proposing, then ignore my advice, but if not you should either speak with an attorney or abandon your idea.

Legal issues aside, publishing true-to-life "hookup stories" using other people's real names while hiding your own is cowardly and you should not do it.
posted by cribcage at 12:45 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

I don't understand. Do you want to use celebrities' names in your real life-inspired sexfics? In the way Calloway did, as a clearly indicated pseudonym? Or do you want people to buy your ebook about getting fisted by Wilford Brimley because they're hot for him?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:54 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is a bad idea. Don't do it.

A series of single hookup stories, clearly labelled as erotica or erotic fiction, with no real names? Fine.

A series of real hookup stories, where you also do NOT use any real names whatsoever, probably okay.

When you start mixing one elements up, combining the real accounts with the fake hookup stories and then, on top of that, using real celebrities' names?! You are setting yourself up for disaster. Legally, ethically, just a bad idea.

Even if Amazon does allow it, your credibility will be called into question. You could get sued. It will be easy enough to figure out who authored the stories since you're including all the incriminating details.

Also, I just don't understand why you would want to do this. What is your motivation here? Why lie about some of the hookups at all? Why do you feel the need to make people think you are hooking up with celebrities? Why use real names in the stories?

How do you think a celebrity would react to being the subject of a tell-all sex story, even if he/she did hook up with you?

"(Famous Actor) surprised me in the shower, but it wasn't to wrap me up in that big fluffy hotel towel. No, he had something else in mind. Who would have guessed that the wholesome star of (family television series) was into golden showers?!"

Yeah, like that's going to go over well. Don't you think famous actor would be upset to have his private life exposed like that?

Now imagine how FURIOUS famous actor would be if that embarrassing hookup didn't even happen!

And no, it doesn't make it okay if the sex was vanilla.

This is a spectacularly bad idea, and you come across as pretty sleazy for even seriously considering it, IMHO.
posted by misha at 7:15 PM on February 27, 2013

I'm not a lawyer, but afaik, legally, in the US, you're in the clear as long as it's clearly fiction.

Amazon, of course, being a private entity, can do whatever they will.
posted by snakeling at 2:20 AM on February 28, 2013

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