Request copyright gift for oral history recordings

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      Do any of you alter your standard gift agreement for oral histories to request that copyright be given to you for old oral histories you hold? This has come up with regard to ones in our collection where no “consent to make public” form was ever signed by the narrator. Usually, at the time of the recording, we just require a consent agreement with opportunities for restrictions (such as “not to be made public until after my death”). Now we are going to the heirs of deceased narrators asking for consent and are being advised that we should be asking for copyright. I’m concerned that the legality of that term to something the donor (heir) didn’t know they had copyright to may unnecessarily doom to failure the project of gaining consent to publish. None of the OHs are of famous people, just locals talking about their experiences. It happens that all the recordings we lack consent for are VHS tapes in which the “audience” is the interviewer.

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