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Interviews

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The rights of interviewees

In theory, the words or a photograph of a person can be published without their permission (although for photos this does not apply in France and there are an increasing number of by-laws to protect celebrities, so check).

However, if your work is going to be used for any sort of commercial purposes, then you need interviewees' permission. Most celebrities have sold the rights to exploit their image, so if you want to use it, you will have to get permission from whoever holds the rights. Celebrities often have an expensive team to promote and defend the image of their 'property'.

In practice, things are not quite as difficult as they sound. Most people are very happy to provide an interview that will promote their work or views. What you have to do is make sure that the person knows the purpose for which you intend to use the interview. 

So, before you start, make sure the person you plan to interview knows:

  • who you are
  • who you represent
  • what you want to talk about
  • what you plan to do with the interview

and make sure you understand their agenda, which might include promoting some of their work

Recording

Interviewers often carry a recorder and should always ask for permission before using it. Mostly they are recording in order to supplement their notes. If you want to use parts of the recording for broadcast, make sure the interviewee understands. For any broadcaster, this requires a formal approval as they are performing. There is some wriggle room with this but it is so much better to get written permission. Broadcasters will ask you to provide written proof.

Preparation

Prepare your questions in advance but don't stick too rigidly to the questions or the order unless they have been agreedbeforehand. (Occasionally you may be asked to submit questions in advance.) These questions can provide a talking point before you start and help relax the subject as they know what is coming and can, to some extent, prepare their thoughts.

When you start writing, remember the laws of libel. If the subject is alive there are some limits about what can be said.

The agreement

The agreement is mainly a matter of courtesy and clarity, but if you have written permission this should avoid unpleasant surprises if the subject claims they were tricked.

If you plan to provide your interview to any established media then take a copy of their specific agreement. Look on their website as they always have such a document and will make you go back to get it signed before they use your interview.

The text below might provide the basis of your release or permission form (though you will need to compose your own to fit the situation):


Date:

Location:

I, name of the subject, (the subject) agree to undertake the interview with your name and organisation (the writer).

  • There are no restrictions on the use that may be made of the interview material.  (But there might be a time limit for first publication)

or

  • The interview may be published in the following media (these can be specific or general e.g. A magazine or blogs)

 

  • Any publishers shall comply with any reasonable restrictions for use or re-use. These should be listed
  • I also relinquish any right to edit, examine or approve the material derived from this interview.
  • The writer

I affirm that I have the right to make this contract.

Dated signatures of subject and writer

 



To make it legal, you will normally need some further details and signatures (but this varies between legal jurisdictions):
  1. Most documents require the date, name, address and signature of the subject and often a witness.
  2. If the subject is a minor, the agreement must be signed on their behalf by an authorised person.
  3. If the subject is giving permission to discuss a private location or performance or an object, the subject should note why they have the authority.
 

Copyright law   Getting permission Clearing copyright Model release

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