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Fake News stories

     
7:47 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If I was to write a FAKE news article on my blog could I get sued for it?

I want to write some spoof articles and I will mention in the article that it is fake, but i will be gently mocking celebs etc.

Is this likely to cause problems?

7:51 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Opinions are one thing, but publish a fabrication appearing as fact, and trouble you may see.
8:00 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Cheers Jon.
8:09 pm on May 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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there's a site named after the veggie that brings tears to one's eyes which does satire rather well.
1:30 pm on May 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If you invent and publish a story that could reasonably be taken as factual, you'd have at least some confused/upset readers, and possibly some upset people-in-the-fake-news.

But if something is ridiculous enough to be an obvious satire or parody - basically, ridiculous enough to be funny - you shouldn't have any legal problems.

Beware that no matter how obvious a satire is, and no matter how many times you tell your readers that it's not real, someone is going to take it as true. Best one I've seen was a reporter for a large international newspaper who took information from a website with "satire" in its title, thought the info was real, and put it in an article he was writing as if it were fact. I don't know if he got fired, but he was sure the butt of a lot of jokes. -- Just to say, it's gonna happen, but if you're writing above-board satire/parody, you shouldn't have any legal problems.

Perfect opportunity for one of my favorite quotes (which I've put in a couple of other posts over the last year or so) - Al Franken, after a judge threw out the Fox News lawsuit against him: "In America, parody is protected free speech, even if the subject of the parody doesn't 'get it.'" [Editorial addition: Note that in America the subject of the parody can still take you to court.]

1:44 pm on May 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A quick search via your favourite search engine for law +parody yields interesting and informative results.

Syzygy

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2:34 pm on May 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If you mention in the article that it's a fake, I don't foresee any legal troubles. Satire and parody have a long history of protection under the First Amendment.

In fact, if you write a book as a parody of, say, Gone with the Wind, you will be protected from charges of copyright infringement, where you will not be if you write a more "respectful" story that used the characters and setting....

Further research is definitely a good idea, so that you will have a sense of what you can and can't do--especially if celebrities are involved!

2:35 pm on May 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Watch the Daily Show for pointers. Their motto is that they are the most trusted name in fake news.
6:06 am on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Look at what the tabloids print when you check-out at the store? If you are a "public figure" (i forget the correct legal term) you are much more open to things being said that me not be true about you.

You're better off spoofing very famous people (-:

7:00 pm on June 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have a whole site based in false news, and I did not have any problem in 2 years. I wrote about aliens coming to the Earth, about using cocaine to attract and kill pests and Saddam Hussein winning the elections.
I am based in a far-away location, which could be useful to avoid trouble.
A small disclaimer in the footer of the site is also helpful.
11:22 pm on June 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"The show you are about is a news parody. It's reporters are not journalists, it's stories are not fact-checked and it's opinions are not full thought through."

They could use that on FOX NEWS and it would still stand.

12:08 am on June 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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They could use that on FOX NEWS and it would still stand.

Stephen Colbert, in his Billy O'Reilly spoof persona, warned Fox News at the White House Correspondents dinner [editorandpublisher.com] that he had a copyright on the term the "no fact zone".

He said, "I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the No Fact Zone. Fox News, I own the copyright on that term." He has another pretty funny fake news show, a spin off from the Daily Show.

 

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