Interview / Podcast Release Form

First an important dose of legalese:


I make no representations or warranties as to whether or not this process of release authorization is considered enforceable. Use it at your own risk.

The information in this document is for informational purposes only. In other words, I am not a lawyer. So that would also mean I am not your lawyer, because again, I’m not a lawyer. I’d suggest if you are reading this you probably need personalized legal advice. I encourage you to contact an attorney in your community.

Don’t you hate legalese…unfortunately, it’s a part of life, perhaps now more than ever.  And with the explosion of social medial technology we are recording more and more.  More and more people are recording other people’s words and images.

If you are a producer of digital content, then you need to be thinking about legalese, as much as you may not want to!

When I was deciding to do interviews as part of my web content, I decided to look around to find out what I needed. Here’s some interesting stuff that I found:

It seems the safest thing to do is to have a written release that is signed and returned.  The problem is the practicality of doing that for audio/video interviews.

According to the Creative Commons Podcasting Legal Guide:

As an interviewer, you should make sure the interviewee agrees to the interview, your adaptation of their responses (assuming you intend to adapt them) and to the inclusion of their responses in your podcast and the circulation of your podcast on the terms you choose. In many interview scenarios, you may have an implied license to use the materials, but it safest to get your interviewee’s written consent or (at minimum) record the interviewee’s verbal consent before you use the interview in your podcasts.

On the Copyright and Fair Use section of the Stanford Libraries site: Interview and Property Releases, I found this:

Most reporters and writers do not obtain signed interview releases because they presume that by giving the interview, the subject has consented to the interview and, therefore, there can be no claim for invasion of privacy. In addition, many interview subjects don’t have the ability or inclination to execute a written release – for example, a person interviewed by telephone for a deadline newspaper story.

Nevertheless, the document goes on to say, a written release can be useful.

It can help avoid lawsuits for libel, invasion of privacy or even copyright infringement (since the speaker’s words may be copyrightable).

I learned that some podcasters prefer to secure permission in two different ways.

I don’t believe that either of these ways have been tested in court.

1. One method is to use a short statement written on a card or provided via email.  Then before the interviewee have the interviewee read the card or email.  This way you’ll have verbal consent.  Adam Weiss wrote that he follows this technique in his blog.  You can read what he uses for the text on his blog.

2. Others use a word-press plug-in as their interview release form.  To be clear, the plug-in does not provide the text.  It’s just a way to put your release text on your blog and make it easy for your interviewees to agree to your release terms.

I looked around the web to see what I could find in terms of sample talent releases.  I found a simplistic example.  I found a talent release form used at a college.   I also found a site that included language for a general, talent, location, and materials release.  Of course, the releases themselves are copyrighted so I cannot provide what I use.  However, the basic information covered in them is the following:

  1. 1. The parties who are in the agreement.  A definition of the product.
  2. 2. The person that signs gives the right to use his / her likeness, image, voice and appearance to the producer.
  3. 3. The person that signs gives the right to edit, mix or duplicate and to use or re-use the Product in way the producer wants.
  4. 4. The person that signs gives the right to broadcast, exhibit, market, sell in anyway they want in any form they want.
  5. 5. The person that signs gives confirm that has the right to enter into this Agreement, that is not restricted by any other agreements.
  6. 6. Other miscellaneous terms…

Ultimately I decided to do a combination of these things.  Depending on who I was interviewing and the ultimate purpose of the video.  If it was something very informal and not likely to generate revenue for me, I simply verbally asked permission.  For others I asked for permission verbally and recorded the interviewee stating their agreement at the start of the interview.  Others I sent a release ahead of time.  I am now thinking of using the plug-in for the release process.  However, now that I am using some of the interviews for my upcoming books and products, I have time scheduled with my attorney to review this in detail.

Ah, the pleasures of the US legal system!

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Copyright Lisa B. Marshall ©2012-2016. All Rights Reserved. Photo of Lisa B. Marshall by Joan Ford Photography.