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I am working on a book that will be based on the results of ten interview questions that I am asking of multiple well-known-in-their-field people.

Do I need to get these folks to sign a waiver or some sort of other legal document before I can publish their responses?

Maybe I don't need to, but is it wise to?

I'm self-publishing for what it is worth.

  • How extensive are the questions? How well-known are the people? How likely are they to complain? As far as any documentation required, ask a lawyer, not random self-selected people on-line. – Ed Grimm Feb 13 at 4:51
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    As a fine point, a "waiver" is someone giving up their legal rights. What you want is "permission" to use someone else's intellectual property. – Zeiss Ikon Feb 13 at 15:42
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I think it is absolutely wise. Any sorts of legal complications can arise and it's always best to be in the clear. I wrote up a contract with a close friend of mine adapting her work (basically making me her agent as well as granting separate use of her characters). Relationships and situations can change.

  • I think OP would have a hard time finding a publisher if the legalities weren't nailed down first. – David Thornley Feb 13 at 19:08
  • @DavidThornley OP is self-publishing. Though personally I wouldn't publish anything more formal than a blog without having contracts just like a traditional publisher would. – Cyn says make Monica whole Feb 13 at 21:27
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I agree with El Cadejo, it is always wise to have a contract in place. This covers you legally (and to some degree ethically) if:

  • You have a falling out with one of your subjects who wants to pull their work.
  • A subject doesn't like your interpretation of her/his words and claims you never had permission to use them.
  • A publisher requires this in the future* but then you can't reach one of your subjects.
  • Your book makes lots of money and a subject thinks some should go to her/him.
  • A subject dies and her/his next of kin is not into the project or is so overwhelmed that s/he won't respond to your requests.

* Note: You may be self-publishing now but maybe the book will be reprinted or, even more likely, you may wish to submit some articles based on the larger book.

Always always cover your tuchis.

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