Where can I find a release form for Oral History Interviews?
June 29, 2015 7:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning to interview a few of my older family members to preserve some of their stories for posterity. I want to make sure I have flexibility in how I can share and use the recordings and transcripts later on. I want to use a release form to make things legal and official. Also, I think it will help make it clear to the interviewees how the interviews might be used. Can you point me to some sample release forms online?
posted by braveterry to Law & Government (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

My first thought is that you could draft your own, starting with how you explained it right here. For my projects, the language I use is "This will certify that I, (please print name), hereby grant permission to [interviewer] to use the materials and information that I have provided in any publications, displays, or promotions concerned with the history of ________ or for any other purpose that might arise. Any restrictions to use or access I have written in plain language in the space below or on a separate sheet of paper." Following that are blanks for signatures and dates. It's a good idea to use broad language, but also to allow the interviewee to stipulate any use restrictions. Interviewees are also more comfortable (and more likely to be candid) if they feel they have control over the dissemination of the information they provide.

Jessamyn's links are all great. Here's another sample from a local history museum and a how-to guide from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Digital Heritage. Feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions--I do this for a living and it is very, very rewarding and fascinating work.
posted by witchen at 7:41 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Great suggestions above. If you are planning on depositing these into an archive (perhaps something local), the archive in question will most likely have its own deposit and release forms, so you may want to look into that as well.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:08 AM on June 29, 2015

I want to make sure I have flexibility in how I can share and use the recordings and transcripts later on. I want to use a release form to make things legal and official.

It sounds like you are asking for legal advice, and since laws vary by jurisdiction, a generic form may not accomplish your specific goals. You can consult with a lawyer [MeFi Wiki] who has experience in this area, if you want to make sure that the forms comply with the applicable laws and protect your specific legal interests. The forms listed here appear to be a great starting point and will likely reduce the amount of time a lawyer may need to review the forms, but AskMe is not able to act as your lawyer and cannot provide you with the legal certainty that you seem to be asking for.

To find legal advice, you may want to contact the Online Media Legal Network, which "is a network of law firms, law school clinics, and individual lawyers across the United States who are interested in assisting online journalism ventures and other digital media creators address their legal needs. These lawyers and clinics bring a wealth of experience and are eager to provide assistance on a range of topics."
posted by Little Dawn at 9:18 AM on June 29, 2015

The above suggestion of the Library of Congress and Oral History Association is a great one. I would just like to add from personal experience, in addition to a written form that they sign, have them read an agreement at the beginning of the interview. That way if your documentation ever gets separated from the content, you still have some form of agreement. So something like :
"This is Teleri025 and I am interviewing BraveTerry on June 29, 2015.

And this is BraveTerry and I consent to this oral history interview and convey permission to reuse, reproduce, and disseminate this interview....blah blah blah."
posted by teleri025 at 1:58 PM on June 29, 2015

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