Telling It All: A Legal Guide to the Exercise of Free Speech

Harold J. Fuson, Author Andrews McMeel Publishing $8.95 (118p) ISBN 978-0-8362-7025-9
First Amendment lawyer Fuson has done an admirable job of cobbling together an easy-to-read handbook on how to avoid the legal pitfalls that can accompany free expression. Although the author says that his audience is anyone concerned with free speech, he principally addresses journalists in various media. Still, the book offers much to readers whether they're radio talk-show hosts, public activists or members of the general public seeking a basic understanding not only of libel principles but also of matters relating to copyright and access to information (e.g., government documents or a private firm's financial records). The bulk of the book is about libel and it's spoken variation, slander. Both are legally actionable, if among other criteria, they are circulated to a third party. Fuson also points out that since libel law was originally intended to protect the public order, the truth is not always the best defense. (``Thus, the saying, `The greater the truth, the greater the libel.'"") A chapter on news-gathering fouls tells potential investigators what legal pitfalls to avoid. The book also contains other useful tidbits of information like who owns the copyright to a letter (the writer, unless those rights have been transferred) and that many standard homeowner insurance policies already have coverage for libel. One small criticism: an index would have been very useful. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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