Author Topic: Legal rights to write a book  (Read 2617 times)


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Legal rights to write a book
« on: September 19, 2017, 03:30:58 AM »
I've been chatting to a friend of mine who, many years ago, found some 'treasure' in a house he was renovating.  I cannot say too much at this stage.  He has asked me to help him write the story which sounds amazing.  I am concerned that any living relatives of the person who used to own these 'things' might want to claim them back.  The 'owner' is long dead and as far as we know there has been only one living relative who is very elderly and possibly no longer alive in recent years. He may have grandchildren.  We would need to look on Ancestry or find out from records.  My friend has done some research already.

I have advised him he should write this in a fictional way.  I think then that this will avoid any legal problems.  I don't know if I will help him write this book or not, I have to think about my own legal rights and royalties etc.  However, the temptation is too great.  It could be a best seller.  The history behind it all is truly amazing. I already have it planned in my head! ;) I have to tread carefully.

If the house has been sold to someone else, then surely these items are the property of the person who bought the house. At the moment I don't have those facts.

I would like to get involved, it's a huge temptation, and I suggested he write it.  He is not very literate and doesn't have the time to do it.  He has asked for my help. I am about to see his 'treasure' in the coming weeks.  The items were left in a place where the owner never wanted to see them again.  He made sure they were never seen, but because the house was being rebuilt, they were retrieved.  My friend didn't steal them, only rescued them and left them in a box in his attic for many years.   The story behind them is incredible.  A story that must be told.

I love stuff like this, don't you?  Anyway, any comments would be helpful.  A bit of dilemma, to help or not help and to fictionalise or not.  I hope legally he is able to do it. This could be a long haul.

Lin  :)

« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 03:37:09 AM by Lin Treadgold - Author »

Offline G. London

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Re: Legal rights to write a book
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2017, 07:46:43 PM »
Lin, I'm not sure about English common law on this issue, but if you think this written work may be commercially viable I would consult a local solicitor.

Lets say someone buys a house and starts renovations and finds a Van Gogh or a Picasso hidden in a wall.  Well any "Reasonable" seller (or his/her heirs disposing the property) that knew it was there would  not have left the treasure.  The key legal word would be reasonable person.  You can bet if what was found by this person was worth a great deal of money it would end up in court if there are indeed heirs or even a will saying all assets go to a certain charity, church, university etc.

Maybe an elderly person losing their faculties would have hidden something valuable, where a reasonable and  mentally competent person would not have.

There could be a boatload of legal issues here in many directions depending upon the value of the find.

Always best to check.


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Re: Legal rights to write a book
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2017, 06:29:00 AM »
Yes, I agree with you and the person who 'owns' this find, I will certainly mention this to them.  I won't be sure this is commercially viable, except to say it would make an excellent romance story and if I wrote it, I would have to take all the royalties for it.  This person wouldn't get a thing as it's my fiction.  I personally now feel that this story could not be written except in a fictional way.  Change of names and places etc.  If it was written as fact, there could well be legal issues, no matter how long ago it was.