I just read a story on the news that made me go: Oh my, this would make a great short story. I've never written a story based on a news article before. So I'm wondering, will someone sue me? Am I infringing some copyright law?

I'm not planning to write an exact copy, though anyone who reads the story would make the connection with the original story.

  • @Mari-Lou A Thanks for the info. How about now?
    – wyc
    Dec 6, 2014 at 8:20
  • @Mari-Lou A OK, done.
    – wyc
    Dec 6, 2014 at 11:02
  • 1
    @Mari-Lou A Oh that was a typo. Fixed.
    – wyc
    Dec 6, 2014 at 14:01
  • PHEW!. I would have edited it myself but I don't have enough rep. Pay greater attention next time :P
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 6, 2014 at 14:04
  • @Mari-Lou A Ha! Wow, English is hard.
    – wyc
    Dec 6, 2014 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


In brief: Yes.


  • If you make a direct (word-for-word) copy of a news story, then you'll be in breach of copyright.

  • If you write a story with characters in it who are clearly based on specific living people then you (or your publishers) risk being sued for libel by those people if they think that your story disparages them unfairly.

That's the situation here in the UK. If you say where in the world you are then someone else may have other advice which is more relevant to you.

  • 1
    Same in the U.S. You can freely write a story "inspired" by a real news story. Just change all the names and shuffle some facts around. You probably want to change some of the facts anyway to make the story more exciting/romantic/whatever. If you want to use real names, etc, and write a fictionalized account of real events, the danger is not copyright violation -- as long as you don't copy a news story word for word -- but that people that you made up facts about could sue you for libel. Whether they really would, and whether they would win, would depend on the details of the case.
    – Jay
    Oct 27, 2014 at 15:48

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