Q&A: Do I Need a Release to Publish Interviews?

A question for Reddit user /u/TheLadyGrim. THe answer can apply to whether you want a release for interviews of vlogs, podcasts, blogs, or books.

Question

My vlog has not gone live yet, but I have been interviewing people and writing artist profiles. So, I quote these artists and I feature pictures of their art that link back to their sites/social media. Do I need to have them sign a release form? If so, which kind.

Response

I’ll provide an answer in two ways:

  1. From a legal standpoint, it’s a good idea to have a release to prevent any potential misunderstandings. As for a sample release, I suggest using what I call the “piggyback method”–try to find a release form used by a reputable company and borrow from it. In this case, there is a sample interview release published by Duke University Press: https://www.dukeupress.edu/Assets/Downloads/DUP_SampleInterviewRelease.pdf. I think Duke University Press would likely have well put together legal forms, so I might use this as a starting template for your own form.
  2. On the other hand, going through the process of obtaining a formal release can be burdensome on a practical level. I would also think that artists will be happy to have you give them exposure. So, overall, I would think foregoing the release would not be that risky. But you could also try to minimize the burden by trying to incorporate the release into the scheduling process. For example, you might include the terms in a confirmation email and clearly stating something like, “Your interview is scheduled for [date and time]. The interview is subject to the following terms: [include all the terms]…If you do not agree with these terms, please let me know within 24 hours of the scheduled interview. Otherwise, these terms will be binding.” This is obviously not as good as having a signed release, but it beats having nothing and will not give you or your interviewee extra work.

As for the risks, I think worst case scenario is that you publish something based on an interview that ends up making millions of dollars. Then the person you interviewed comes around saying they should get a cut. They might technically be right. So a release should clarify who is entitled to what, if anything.

Bottom line, whether you “need” a release comes down to your personal preferences and tolerance for risk.

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Leland Faux
Attorney Leland Faux blogs about trademark, copyright, and online business issues at Law of the Brand. You can submit a question by email to thelawofthebrand@gmail.com.

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