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Ownership Of Letter

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25Irene25 | 17:18 Fri 20th Aug 2021 | Law
7 Answers
Hi If someone writes a letter to you does the letter and information in it belong to you or the person who sent it to you.
and if it is yours would it be illegal to disclose the contents.


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The physical letter belongs to the recipient. Copyright in the actual text belongs to the writer, so if you publish it without their permission you are in breach of their copyright.
Question Author
Thanks The chair I did think once sent to you it was yours but Apparently not.
Chair is correct to separate the paper (!) and the info.

Remember Pilling? he purloined carbons from lawyers dustbins and sold the story of Paddy Pantsdown. ( yes that long ago). He was charged with stealing paper from the dustbin.

The info is different. I am not sure if Dear Sir and Yours is copyright. The info cant be ( because it is not copied) but that does not mean it is not confidential ( ow! 2le negative, ow!). The info / data may be confidential - esp if marked Private and Confidential

Without Prejudice means you cant use it in court

embargoes means that you can only say it after the embargoed time

Data may not be on paper but that is also protected.

Libel may not occur in a letter - it has to be published. Fleur Forsyte in the Forsyte Saga 1967 is sued for libel for writing - you are a snake of the first water.....but it has to be published before it is actionable. The butler - yes someone tried that - doesnt count as publication...

Mogz is suing on the grounds that the info in her letters has been published and I daresay the lawyer will have an expensive field day. - Didnt Harry plead with Mr Mogz, "please dont come and spoil my right royal poss-up"

and look how it all turned out !

writing something in a letter you later regret and saying it is confidential is a bit ..... adolescent really.

Question Author
Thanks Peter Pedant for more info I did wonder why Megan M.said the letter sent to her Dad belonged to her and not him so contents still belong to sender.Best be careful what we send I guess!!
Of course if Fred sends you a letter telling you "x, y and z" there is nothing to prevent you saying, or writing (including publishing) "Fred sent me a letter telling me 'x, y and z'". You cannot face action for slander or libel because it is perfectly true. If you represent "x,y and z" as true (and it's not) you may face action.
Question Author
Hi New judge Just to clarify are we saying you can’t be sued and you are still able to publish providing you say xyz sent me a letter saying….but without the sent me a letter bit it could be a problem.
NJ : If I write you a letter saying, 'your aunt Fanny's got a big nose' & you publish, quoting me as saying so, whether she has a big conk or not is immaterial, who could she sue?

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