INTERVIEWS AND INTERVIEW RELEASES
Sometimes the best way to tell a story or describe an experience is through the eyes, ears and words of others. Personal interviews can provide the raw material for books on a variety of topics, including historic events, medical conditions or treatments and human relationships.
In most cases, a writer who interviews others to obtain material for a book will need to get a release from each person interviewed. The following issues should be addressed when preparing and securing interview releases:
- The release should describe in general terms the subject matter of the interview and the proposed book.
- The release should identify the writer as the person to whom the release is being granted, and should also include the writer's licensees and assigns. This will allow the writer to extend the benefits of the release to the writer's publisher.
- The release should cover the use of the interviewee's comments in all media, in the event the writer's book is later adapted for a motion picture, television program or other work.
- The release should state whether the writer will be permitted to use the interviewee(s name in connection with the comments obtained from the interview. In some cases, the interviewee may consent to be interviewed only if her name is not used, or she is identified only by her first name or a fictitious name.
- The release should grant the writer and the writer's licensees and assigns the right to use the interviewee's comments and, if the interviewee has consented, the interviewee's name, in any advertising for the book.
- In addition to reciting the rights granted to the writer, the release should acknowledge and confirm that no claims will be made against the writer or the writer's licensees or assigns for the use of the material obtained in the interview or, if the interviewee has consented, for the use of the interviewee's name in connection with that material. Specifically, the potential claims to be released include claims for copyright infringement, libel, invasion of privacy, infringement of the right of publicity, and breach of any covenant of confidentiality.
- The release should not obligate the writer to use the interviewee's comments, and should state that the writer may choose to include or exclude part or all of those comments in the book, at the writer's discretion.
- The release should confirm that the interviewee will not have any right of review or approval over the book.
- The release must be signed by the interviewee in order to be valid. If the interviewee is a minor or is otherwise subject to any legal disability, the release should also be signed by the interviewee's parent or guardian.
Collecting real life experiences through interviews is one of the tricks of the trade frequently used by writers in preparing a book. However, there are some risks associated with using material obtained from interviews, and a writer who chooses to use this technique should always obtain appropriate releases from the persons interviewed.