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I'm creating a parody/spoof magazine which contains some "real" advertisements and businesses in.

How should I word an "all persons fictitious" disclaimer to include fictitious businesses?

This is my current disclaimer:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

What's the best way to expand on it? This is a footer on every page of my Quark XPress document, by the way.

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5 Answers 5

Here's a suggestion inspired by computer science, where businesses, people and all kinds of other stuff can be simply generalised as entities.

All characters and other entities appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or other real-life entities is purely coincidental.

Or

All characters and other entities appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.

Of course, this could be adapted and fine tuned. The principle suggestion is to gain coverage by the use of the word entities.

The other point I'd make is that existing disclaimers aren't always going to be adequate or appropriate to the modern world (i.e. the rise of brands, trademarks and business names as identities in their own right), so you shouldn't be afraid to improve on it by starting from scratch.

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I just finished watching the 1976 film Network about a fictitious television network, but that mentions the other real networks (such as ABC) and real companies (e.g. Disney, IBM, AT&T, Union Carbide). The disclaimer at the end of the film refers to firms:

The events, characters and firms depicted in the photoplay are ficticious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms, is purely coincidental.

The events, characters and firms depicted in the photoplay are ficticious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms, is purely coincidental.

This type of disclaimer is quite common.

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1  
I always wanted to see: Viewer discretion is discouraged. –  Dale Emery Aug 28 '11 at 19:43

If you want to include fictitious businesses, try:

All characters and corporations or establishments appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The rest of the statement is excellent, only a small addition is needed to include the businesses.

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Not all businesses are organizations. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_entity for ideas on alternative terminology. –  Unreason Aug 23 '11 at 12:24

The disclaimer has an interesting history, and tvtropes has an expanded version of it:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

It does not specifically mention businesses, but I feel that it is covered with names (and incidents and events).

Still, keep in mind that this is not legal advice and that you might be liable even if you include such a disclaimer.

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