ERIC Number: ED307220
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Legal Aspects of Oral History Collections. A Report to the Oral History Committee of the Medical Library Association.
Wright, A. J.
Legal implications of oral history research and collection can be divided into four broad areas of concern, including copyright, restriction of access, libel, and contracts. This document presents highlights from various authorities in each of these areas. Peterson notes that interviewers and interviewees hold the copyright to their own words; a single oral history embodies two copyrights. Archives should seek transfer of copyright to themselves so they are able to bring suit for infringement if another individual or institution uses the words of the interview. Pierce states that the interviewer and narrator should both sign legal releases for interview content and residual property rights. Four areas of archival material may require access restrictions: privacy concerns and business, personal and investigative information. Four basic privacy invasions are identified, noting that privacy is a right of living individuals only. Libel is the written defamation of a person's character or reputation. Since oral histories are taped and/or transcribed, defamation contained therein would be libel. Duckett contends that a curator, the institution, the interviewer, and the narrator can all be held liable for damages in a libel suit. Oral history materials can be covered to a great extent by the same type of contracts which are associated with archival and manuscript material. Unique considerations concerning oral history contracts are discussed. Librarians with oral history collections should make use of competent legal advice. A 9-item bibliography of the cited authorities is included. (GEA)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Administrators; Media Staff; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A