Thursday, April 16, 2009

Consent and Release for Documentary Interview Subject

Dear Rich: I have a friend who's working on a documentary and he will be interviewing a lot of people. He wants a form (assuming one is necessary) that basically gives him the proper rights to use the footage from the interviews. Can you help? Absolutely. Releases and consents are not always required -- particularly if the interview is for informational purposes such as a documentary film or news article. Sorting out the difference between a commercial or informational use can be confusing and you're usually best off getting releases whenever possible. According to the Dear Rich staff, if you want to keep things very simple, you can start the interview by filming a video consent -- for example, stating, "As you know we're making a documentary film and by participating, you consent to our use of your image and words in that documentary, no matter what form it is in or how it is distributed. Is that okay with you?" If you want a more formal full-blown universal release -- for example, to show an insurer or a company that acquires distribution -- use the form (and explanation) shown below (it's also posted here). 
All-Purpose Interview Release
This is an all-purpose release to be used in the event you are interviewing someone for a book, podcast, video, or any other work in which you must obtain consent. You don't always need more, so to learn more, check out my Nolo book, Getting Permission: How to Clear Copyrighted Works.