Small penis rule
"For a fictional portrait to be actionable, it must be so accurate that a reader of the book would have no problem linking the two," said Mr. Friedman. Thus, he continued, libel lawyers have what is known as "the small penis rule". One way authors can protect themselves from libel suits is to say that a character has a small penis, Mr. Friedman said. "Now no male is going to come forward and say, 'That character with a very small penis, that's me!'"
The small penis rule was referenced in a 2006 dispute between Michael Crowley and Michael Crichton. Crowley alleged that after he wrote an unflattering review of Crichton's novel State of Fear, Crichton included a character named "Mick Crowley" in the novel Next. The character is a child rapist, described as being a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and Yale graduate with a small penis.
- Dinitia Smith (24 October 1998). "Writers as Plunderers; Why Do They Keep Giving Away Other People's Secrets?". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Felicia R. Lee (14 December 2006). "Columnist Accuses Crichton of 'Literary Hit-and-Run'". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 May 2013.