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Off Campus Writers' Workshop - OCWW

ONSITE - Leonard Rubin- Defaming, Ridiculing, Disparaging: How Far Can a Writer Legally Go?

  • December 16, 2021
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Winnetka Community House 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL 60093
  • 34


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Do not register for this session if you wish to attend via Zoom.


All writers for reading by other than their immediate families should be concerned about their readers’ reactions, especially if those reactions have legal implications. For some, if their only hope is a Word document that will never leave their computer hard drive to be seen by others, there may be no concern. But for most of us, any disdaining of audience size or response is really only lip service; the vast majority of writers want to be read. And most of us understand that the guarantees of freedom of speech in the First Amendment to the Constitution do not mean that we are free to write anything, about anyone, no matter what. The law tells us that there are limits.

But what are they? Can one can say anything as long as it is true? Can one express an opinion without fear of reprisal? Can one depend on the label of fiction to stretch descriptions of invented people that are very close to real people? For that matter, is the label of fiction all a writer needs for insulation against liability? Do the spouses of deceased people have rights against an author who libels a public figure? And how much of another author’s work can be taken without permission, to make a point? As mentioned above, there are limits. Mr. Rubin will discuss the laws regarding those limits, how to avoid them, and how to stretch them.

Mr. Rubin will take audience questions for the last 30 minutes related to his talk and about any other legal literary topic.

E. Leonard Rubin is principal counsel with LRubinLaw, a firm that represents individuals and business clients worldwide.  He is an arbitrator and certified mediator and has extensive experience handling negotiations, internet implications and complex litigation in the copyright, trademark, communications, publishing, computer, music, television, theatrical and motion picture areas, among others. 

Mr. Rubin, who concentrates his practice in copyright, trademark, defamation, trade secret, privacy and entertainment law, previously served as Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Playboy Enterprises, Inc., for 13 years. He is a past Trustee and immediate past president of the Midwest Chapter, and has sat on the Executive Committee, of the Copyright Society of the United States.  He has written numerous articles and spoken both in this country and abroad on copyright, trademark, defamation, entertainment and data protection issues. He is a member of the Chicago, Illinois, New York State and American Bar Associations, and is admitted to practice before the Illinois and New York state courts as well as the U.S. Supreme Court and the Fifth and Seventh U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.  

Mr. Rubin is an Adjunct Professor at UIC Law, teaching Entertainment Law.  He is a former Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University School of Law (Copyright Law), the University of Illinois College of Law (Entertainment Law, Copyright and New Technologies Law), and Loyola University Law School (Advanced Copyright Law).  Mr. Rubin is a past president and Board member of Lawyers for the Creative Arts (which provides free legal help to indigent artists, authors and composers), was a Director of CBA-TV Inc., and for 35 years was the director and co-author of “Christmas Spirits,” the annual social and political musical satire show produced by the Chicago Bar Association.

We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at for details.

9-9:30 Socializing 

9:30-12 Program 

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