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Interview & Materials Release Forms
for Freedom Movement Veterans
Some interviewers and archives are asking us to sign agreements and release
forms that amount to a "(sharecropper contract" for
the digital age because they unilaterally seize all rights to everything for
the institution and explicitly exclude Movement veterans and their heirs from
being able to make any use of their own words and
materials — forever. This is unacceptable.
WE DON'T HAVE TO ACCEPT "SHARECROPPER" CONTRACTS!
We are being asked us to contribute our time and knowledge. Therefore we have
both a moral and a legal right to reject "sharecropper" contracts and
negotiate equitable terms. Read the contract and if you don't like it,
ask for changes or replace it with a better one such as the examples provided
The Civil Rights Movement Archives website (CRMVet) and SNCC Legacy Project
(SLP) urge Freedom Movement veterans to ask that release forms and donation
agreements incorporate the following principles:
- People who contribute their time, labor, memories, insights, analyses,
documents, photos, and memorabilia to research projects, interviews, panel
presentations, group discussions, archives, and similar educational or
commercial endeavors must retain non-exclusive intellectual property rights to
their contributions including any recordings or transcripts of their words and
images. These rights must also pass on to their heirs.
- The person or institution conducting the research, interview, panel,
discussion, or running the repository also retains non-exclusive intellectual
property rights and may use the material as they wish for their own purposes.
- At a minimum, interviewees, panelists, and discussants must be compensated
with copies of any recordings or transcripts that contain their words or
images, and also any works derived from their contribution such as written
transcripts. Contributors and their heirs must also retain intellectual
property rights to use such recordings and transcripts for their own purposes
as they wish.
- As a matter of principle, interviewees have the right to limit and specify
what uses can be made of their words if they wish to do so.
- If at all possible, when written transcripts of recordings are produced,
those whose voices are transcribed should be given the opportunity to review,
correct, amend, and extend their remarks before the transcript is published,
posted, or made available to the public.
The example agreements below incorporate these principles. They can be
downloaded and modified for use or provide ideas and resources for negotiating
a better agreement for yourself.
Your thoughts and comments on this issue are welcome, please send them to