Sorry if I am putting this under the wrong tabs.

But I am writing a game and am concerned about inclusion of the statement that "This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.", due to the fact that it still does reference actual events and places, and historical figures.

Should I still be fine using this disclaimer? As it is not entirely true. Would there be any legal issues with it, given that?

  • Why not simply choose words that represent the truth? Jul 19, 2022 at 2:14
  • Not sure how to reformat it in a way that still remains as formal as the copy and paste one basically every work uses. But I also guess that this is a very common one to use even if parts of it are a lie.
    – Zoey
    Jul 19, 2022 at 2:18
  • No, don't lie, don't copy/paste, don't "reformat", just write actual true words!!! Do you need help with that? (I figure if you can create a game you can draft an original and correct sentence or two...) Alternately, why include a disclaimer at all? Do you fear that someone battling zombies in the persona of Abe Lincoln might get confused about the real historical figure and sue you when they fail High School History class? Jul 19, 2022 at 2:37
  • I am just an extremely paranoid person, to an unhealthy degree, and want to protect myself in whatever way I can in case something does happen.
    – Zoey
    Jul 19, 2022 at 3:41
  • @Zoey I believe that the originator of this kind of disclaimer was a libel suit over a film, published while the people who murdered Rasputin were still living, which implied that Rasputin and the wife of Rasputin's murderer were having an affair. Oftentimes you see a "this is a work of fiction, real-life stuff is used fictionally" form.
    – ikrase
    Jul 19, 2022 at 7:21

1 Answer 1


When a real event or location, or even a real person, is used in a work of fiction but is modified to some degree to suit the needs of the fiction it is being used fictitiously. Thus in the majority of cases where this or a similar disclaimer is used in a work of fiction that includes people, places and/or events that have a real basis, the disclaimer is literally true.

But in anmy event, the disclaimer has little legal effect. It is not a statement made under oath, and even if it were a blatant lie, there would, be no legal consequences for making it.

My understanding (although I do not have a source at hand) is that the disclaimer dates to a case in the late 1800s where an author accidentally and unintentionally used the name of a real person as the name of a fictional villain, and was successfully sued for libel. It was believed that including such a disclaimer would prevent similar verdicts in future. Perhaps it would have in the legal climate of that time, I am not sure it was ever tested in court.

In modern defamation law, the plaintiff must show that the defamatory statement was "of and concerning" the plaintiff, that is that a reasonable person would consider that it was about the plaintiff. A mere accidental coincidence of names is not enough. And on the other hand, if the evidence clearly shows that the defamatory content was about the plaintiff, and would naturally be sio taken, a mere disclaimer will not shield the defendant from liability. At most it is an assertion of intention.

Thus omitting such a disclaimer altogether will not subject the author to significant additional risk, and on the other hand, including it will not subject the author to anuy negative legal consequences because it can be alleged that it is not strictly true.

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