Oral History – basic release template

This is our go-to release template because it’s readily modifiable.  We haven’t incorporated Creative Commons language here — we’ve found the standard copyright language may be more understandable to the wider population of participants.  We’ve seen some good CC versions, though, such as this one.  In this template, rather than combine interview and interviewee, it assumes every participant in the interview will have their own release to sign.  Note that we give the participant three choices regarding rights, including the option to go ahead and add it to the public domain — I mean, why not? If they’re comfortable with that, it makes administration of the oral history far easier. For thoughts on restrictions, see this page.

Participant’s name:

Mailing address:


I voluntarily agree to participate in the [INTERVIEWEE NAME] Interview on [DATE], for the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University (the Library).  I acknowledge that the Library acquires oral history interviews with the intent of making them available to users for an ongoing or indefinite period of time.  I understand that to accomplish this, the following items may be created from my interview:

  • a preservation master copy and user copies of the recording
  • reformatted copies of the recording that meet changing technological and archival standards
  • an edited transcript and summary
  • a photograph of me from the interview
  • copies of any personal documents or additional photos I wish to share during the interview

Copyright and Licensing

Copyrights and rights of reproduction in and to these materials will be governed by United States copyright law. The Participant may transfer the work to the public domain, transfer the copyrights to the Library, or the Participant may retain the copyrights:



  • ______I hereby transfer this work to the public domain.  I fully understand that this interview will not be copyrighted by me or the Library, but will be immediately placed in the public domain.  This decision is intended to provide maximum usage by future researchers.


  • ______I hereby transfer copyright to the Library, which grants me a non-exclusive license for the complete and unrestricted right to reproduce, publish, broadcast, transmit, perform or adapt the interview.


  • ______I retain the copyright to this interview and grant a non-exclusive license to the Library, for distribution to the public for non-commercial, educational purposes, in formats and settings that include, but are not limited to, print and electronic publications, events and exhibitions, internet websites, classrooms, and online. The Library may direct patrons requesting to use the interview for commercial purposes or purposes not allowed under Fair Use (Section 107, Title 17, U.S. Copyright Code), to the following address:





Participant’s signature:


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