If I wrote a book about how to do something that is legal in some places but illegal in others, would I get in trouble? What about if it included a disclaimer clearly stating that the information in this book may not be legal in the city/state/country where you are looking to enact it and it is best to consult with a local lawyer to find out what you can and cannot do?

The book is about a very specific type of sex work.

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    If this were the case, even the DMV manual would be illegal - different US states have slightly varying traffic laws, so something that's legal in one state can be illegal in another. That doesn't make it illegal for Texas to publish a driving manual that would result in illegal behavior if followed in New York. – Nuclear Wang Mar 16 at 15:26
  • Encouraging people to break the law is probably an incitement to crime, maybe not the sex act itself but money laundering, exploitation, public health risk, indecency, etc. However, telling sex workers how to protect themselves, or offering factual information that would help them (it seems the sex act is not the crime, but prostitution is?) I'd consult a lawyer to help you with specific legal advice to reduce liability. Also, consider that you may feel differently about this subject at a later point in your life: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anarchist_Cookbook#Author_remorse – wetcircuit Mar 16 at 15:49
  • That's highly different depending on where you reside. Some countries like US have a "Freedom of speech" concept, while some others do not. – Alexander Mar 16 at 18:40
  • Is there any subject worth writing fiction about that isn't illegal somewhere? For example, I grew up on Perry Mason books, and adultery was a common theme, which was illegal in much of the US at the time. – NomadMaker Mar 23 at 15:58

In the United States, you can write a how-to manual for lots of stuff that's illegal to actually do. A famous use case is The Anarchist's Cookbook -- not the various PDF and text files that have been all over the Internet since it came online, but the late 1970s large format paperback which included detailed instructions for making explosives, and bombs from the explosives, drugs, and assassination tools.

If it were illegal (then) to write and publish such material, I can be pretty confident I wouldn't have been able to openly buy a copy from B. Dalton Books in 1979.

Now, this is not to say you won't get "on a list" if you publish a book about how to commit certain kinds of crime, but honestly, in this world, sex work isn't where the government's eyes (at least in America) are turned -- they're much more interested in various kinds of terrorism. As such, it might not be possible to find a publisher to buy The Anarchist's Cookbook if it were newly written today, but today, one doesn't need a publisher -- an editor, a few proofreaders, a cover artist, and an Amazon account will do the job. At least until Amazon pulls a book they don't like, legal or not...

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Simply put, it depends on the jurisdiction where you publish. Look no further than Phil Zimmerman. His cryptography work was considered illegal to export, but he published a book with his source code, and it removed the possibility of further accusations. In some areas you may be issued a fatwa for writing certain things even if never published. In other areas you can write anything you want.

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