Should Your Interview Subjects Sign a Release?

When interviewing someone for an article or a book, do I need to have the interviewee sign a release form so I can use his or her quotes? Get the answer here.
Author:
Publish date:

Q: When interviewing someone for an article or a book, do I need to have the interviewee sign a release form so I can use his or her quotes? —Jack B.

As long as you identify yourself as a writer and let the interviewee know you are gathering information that may be published somewhere, you usually don't need any kind of written release form. Most interviews cover general topics and won't cause anyone to think twice about getting quoted in print. Heck, I've been interviewed dozens of times and have never been asked to sign anything—which is good, because I have a terribly ugly signature.

There are a few occasions in which a document may be necessary, though, particularly when discussing extremely sensitive or controversial material. At the time of the interview the subject could verbally agree to take part, but if the piece comes off as "unfriendly," he could change his mind and attempt to sue you for libel or invasion of privacy. If that's a concern, be sure to record your interview so you have the quotes on record, and also go to Google and search "interview release form." This brings up a number of free forms you can print and have signed.

If you aren't able to access one of these forms but still need something in writing, find a piece of paper and write, “I consent to the use of my statements in XYZ magazine/book." Have the person sign it. This isn't ideal, but it will provide some legal protection should you need it.

And don’t forget to follow me, your favorite WD blogger @BrianKlems on Twitter by clicking here. I promise I will say wise things. Or maybe I’ll just say wiseguy things. Either way, I promise to inform and entertain.

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Read my Dad blog: TheLifeOfDad.com
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write an exit poem.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Online Courses and Manuscript Critique

This week, we’re excited to announce courses in blogging and memoir writing, manuscript critique services, and more.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a wanting blank poem.

2020_creative_gifts_for_writers

2020 Creative Gift Ideas for Writers

Searching for something special for that special someone who loves to write? Check out our 2020 creative gift ideas for writers with a range of fun gifts for the wordsmiths in your life.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a remix poem.

Omeara_11:27

Going Viral: Writing From the Hopeful Heart

Author Kitty O'Meara shares her experience of going viral online and how that lead to some exciting publishing opportunities.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 27

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a what's next poem.

plot_twist_story_prompts_an_invitation_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: An Invitation

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, give a character an invitation.

Vintage WD_Conder Soule 11:26

Vintage WD: Poetry without Rhyme—Or Even Thees and Thous

In this article from 1977, children’s writer and poet Jean Conder Soule explores the question, “How will I know when I’ve written a poem?”