Entertainment Law Asked & Answered – Do I Need a Release from My Podcast Guest

In this Asked & Answered video, I answer a common question about the need for a release from podcast guest interviewees.

AUDIO:

TRANSCRIPT:

One of the most common questions I get from new media producers, especially podcasters, is “do I really need to get a release from every person I interview on my show?”

I'm Entertainment and New Media Attorney Gordon Firemark, and this Asked & Answered series is where I give answers to common legal questions, so you can take your career and business to the next level.

Stick around and I'll explain… And at the end of this video, I'm going to provide you access to a great free resource you can use to deal with just this situation.

So, do you really need to get a release from everybody you interview?

The short answer is Yes.OK… I know I have colleagues who are going to tell me I'm wrong. So let me just address that. Strictly speaking, it may not be necessary to have a release from your interview subjects. They showed up for the interview, they likely knew they were being recorded, taped, filmed, or whatever, and it's a good bet that they knew you plan to distribute the interview to the public. So, it IS possible to argue that they've given IMPLIED consent. And that's a valid argument… To a degree.

But the problem comes up when the interview subject later on decides to challenge the SCOPE of that consent.

Earlier today, I had a situation in which an interview subject, AFTER the interview, insisted on being given a chance to review it, and to direct the editing of the piece. Since there was no formal release agreement, we don't know the answer to whether this right of approval and editing was promised (the podcaster says it wasn't).

If there had been a release, it'd be much clearer. A release is a contract… And it defines the nature of the relationship between the parties and the scope of their respective rights. It provides valuable evidence of the parties' intent, if there's ever an argument or dispute later… But just as importantly, it serves to prevent those disputes by laying out the framework of things before they recording ever happens.

When you get a release, you actually get several valuable things.

  1. The Interviewee's agreement to show up and actually GIVE the interview in the first place2. Consent to be recorded3. Your right to edit the “performance”4. The consent to the kinds of uses you have planned for the material.4. A Promise not to sue.

So, here’s a scenario… Suppose years after your interview is done, published, and so on, you get this idea… You want to package up a CD or DVD of your greatest interviews, and sell it as a product. Or maybe you're going to adapt the interviews into a book you're going to sell or use to promote your products or services.

If you don't have a release, you could have trouble. You're taking this recording that was made for one purpose, and re-using it for some other, maybe more commercial purpose. That interviewee might be justified in expecting to be compensated for that subsequent use.

But If you have a release, and it defines the scope of your rights properly, you'll free to do those things without getting any further permission.

A release doesn't have to be a big, formal, 5 page contract. Most releases are 2-3 short paragraphs explaining the intentions of the parties, and signed by the interviewee.

Now some podcasters actually just record the consent before the interview starts… Heck, I do that in my own podcast… That certainly is a manifestation of the consent… But there is a risk… You've got to get it just right… And articulate the scope of those rights fully. That can be hard to do quickly, and for the interviewee, if he or she is even the slightest bit nervous, it'll go by so fast, they won't even know what they're agreeing to…

So, I always recommend a written release… Or maybe an online release where they check a box and digitally indicate that they've read and agreed to the terms.

Now… At the beginning of this video, I promised you a free resource… And here it is.

If you click through to http://firemark.com/podcastlaw and sign up with your name and email, I'll send you a model podcast guest release template you can modify for your own use. That url again… http://firemark.com/podcastlaw.

 

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This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.

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