Legal Release Agreements
For a court history program to make an oral history available to the public, it needs to obtain releases from interviewers and interviewees, both of whom retain rights in the recordings and transcripts until those releases are executed. Some interviewees will prefer that all or part of an interview be restricted for a specified length of time, and such restrictions need to be incorporated into the release agreement. Below are sample release agreements that can be used to transfer rights in an oral history from interviewers and interviewees to an independently organized historical society or, in cases where the sponsor of an oral history project is a federal court or agency, to the public domain.
A release need not be obtained from an interviewer who is an employee of a federal court or agency and who conducts an interview as part of his or her official duties, but when the organization hires someone to conduct interviews, that person retains rights in those interviews unless he or she transfers them to the federal entity, and thus to the public domain.
Interviewee - Federal Court or Agency
Interviewer - Federal Court or Agency
Interviewee - Independently Organized Historical Society
Interviewer - Independently Organized Historical Society
Associations, Publications, and Websites
The Oral History Association (http://www.oralhistory.org/)is a national professional organization that serves groups and individuals engaged in oral history. Its annual meeting provides a forum for discussion of oral history techniques, theories and methods of oral history, and the practical results of oral history projects. Its various publications provide standards and guidelines for the conduct of oral history. The Association’s website offers links to regional oral history centers and other practical resources.
Oral History Review The official publication of the Oral History Association is published twice a year and presents articles on the practice of oral history as well as the results of oral history projects.
John A. Neuenschwander, Oral History and the Law (The Oral History Association, 2002). This volume provides an in-depth discussion of legal issues related to the practice and use of oral history and offers sample legal-release forms.
Donald A. Ritchie, Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide (New York: Oxford, 2003). This updated version of a leading guide to oral history addresses the full range of issues involved in conducting oral history projects.
Oral History Evaluation Guidelines (Oral History Association, Revised Edition, September, 2000). This publication offers standards for the conduct of an oral history project.
H-Oralhist (http://www.h-net.org/~oralhist) is an on-line network for scholars and professionals active in studies related to oral history. It provides a list serve for on-line discussions and offers links to a wide variety of resources for oral historians.
Oral History Resources