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King's Cross Railway Lands Group (KXRLG): policy on libel and copyright


The legal definition of libel is that it is a published or broadcast false statement that:

  • _ exposes someone to hatred, ridicule or contempt;
  • _ causes them to be shunned or avoided;
  • _ lowers them in the estimation of 'right thinking' members of society;
  • _ disparages them in their office, profession or trade.
Libel only occurs if the individual or individuals can be identified. It does not apply to organisations or groups unless what is said can apply to recognisable members of an organization or group. So, the smaller the group, the more likely it is that individuals could be recognised.

Libel is most likely to occur by accident, especially if what is said is inaccurate, unclear, ambiguous or includes unchecked facts. Innuendo and implication can both be libellous. Saying the truth is also risky: if sued, we would have to prove the truth of our statements. Even if we won the case we could end up with huge legal bills. It is possible (and illegal) to libel someone we don't know exists.

Avoiding libel:

  • _ take special care when criticising or even making jokes about identifiable people;
  • _ before publishing anything ask 'Could this cast doubt on a person's integrity or good name?'
  • _ If in doubt, leave it out;
  • _ Think before you speak.
  • _ If we receive a solicitor's letter suggesting we have libelled someone we must not reply: a solicitor's letter should only be answered by a solicitor.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) says that we cannot copy or reproduce or quote extensively from any written, photographic, artistic or similar creative work, or distribute it, without the permission of the author or the creator.

We need permission to publish and we may have to pay.

We do not need permission to quote short extracts but they must be clearly acknowledged and give the name of the author and the publication quoted from.

Photographs, illustrations and cartoons could incur reproduction fees.

We could be sued for breach of copyright if we do not follow these guidelines though a copyright owner could simply charge us more than we would have had to pay in the first place - we would be at their mercy.

It is a legal requirement that anything we publish has the name and address of the printer on it somewhere. If we print off items ourselves then we have to include 'Published and printed by the Kings Cross Railway Lands Group ...' with our current address. Legal deposit
Two copies of every publication produced by KXRLG or anyone else are required by law to be deposited with the British Library.

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