Disclaimers in Non-Fiction or “Based Upon” Books & Films

Disclaimers in Non-Fiction books are standard and sometimes very necessary to limit liability. However, a disclaimer should not be treated as an opportunity to be funny, witty or creative.  Recently, Netflix was sued by the real Rachel Williams, whose real name and alleged real personality and life events were portrayed by Netflix in its show “Inventing Anna”. Netflix did not get a written release from the real Rachael Williams.  To make matters worse, Netflix used a variation of a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode along the lines of “This (whole) story is completely true, except for the parts that are total bullshit/is totally made up.”  A proper disclaimer likely would not exempt Netflix from defamation, but it certainly adds to Rachel Williams’ argument that Netflix intended to maliciously hurt the real Rachel Williams.

A disclaimer is an important part of every Non-Fiction book. As a part of my flat fee for Pre-publishing manuscript vetting, I will provide you with a disclaimer that is specific to your book and can aid in defending any libel claims.

Connie J. Mableson