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11 Other Legal Issues


- Defamation

- Negligent misstatement

- Patient confidentiality and consent to publication (medicine authors only)

- Case studies

- Other matters

It is the author’s responsibility to submit a manuscript that meets all legal requirements. Although copyright is the most common issue for our authors, depending on the subject matter of your book other legal issues may arise. If you are concerned about the possible legality of any part of your manuscript, please consult your OUP Editor.


A defamatory statement is one that injures the reputation of another person by exposing him or her to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or one that is disparaging or injurious to a person in his or her business, or one that lowers a person in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally.

A defamatory statement made in writing or other permanent form is libellous.

Please note that by signing your contract with OUP you warrant that your script contains nothing, including libel, that may be the cause of litigation. The strongest defence against an action for defamation is that the statement can be proved to be true by direct first-hand evidence; please be sure to include no statement in your text that cannot be verified.

The following points are important:

  • The dead cannot be libelled, but care must be taken to ensure that the living are not defamed by association with the dead.
  • A defamatory statement may be made directly or by implication or innuendo.
  • Your intention is irrelevant to the question whether a statement is or is not defamatory; a person may plead defamation if a ‘reasonable’ person might interpret your words in that light.
  • Libel is made when it is published and is actionable each time it is repeated in that form. It is no defence against a libel action that the defamatory statement has been previously published.

If you need further specific advice, consult your OUP Editor, who may in turn consult OUP’s legal department.

Negligent misstatement

If an author makes an inaccurate statement without due care, in some limited circumstances a reader who had placed reliance on such a statement might sue the author or publisher for injury caused as a result. By signing your contract with OUP you warrant that any instructions contained in your book are accurate and trustworthy.

Patient confidentiality and consent to publication (medicine authors only)

The publication of a case study, personal information about a patient, image, video, or audio recording of a patient requires his or her signed consent in all cases. Further guidelines on this can be obtained from your OUP Editor.

Case studies

For books that use case studies, agreement is needed from the businesses or other organizations whose activities are described. Data should be verified and its usage should be cleared with the appropriate authority from each company or other enterprise concerned (see the section Copyright Permissions).

In the case of medical case studies, the consent of the patient is required.

Consult your OUP Editor if you plan to include case studies in your book.

Other matters

Legislation relating to racism, sacrilege, religious hatred, obscenity, official secrets, privacy, and other matters, whether in Britain or elsewhere, may affect what may safely be published. Please be sure that you are aware of any potential hazards in your text and raise them with your OUP Editor so that we may take advice from our legal department in any doubtful case.