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Designing Interviews

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Avatar David Yang By David Yang. Nov 8th, 2024.

The Art of the Interview

The stories you tell, whether in text form, by way of video or through audio, are only as good as the information you gather.

Interviewing is the cornerstone of journalism. Interviews usually take place face to face and in person, although modern communications technologies such as the Internet have enabled conversations to happen in which parties are separated geographically, such as with videoconferencing software, and of course telephone interviews can happen without visual contact.


Hi, this is a WebSlides Demo, where we interview the people who make us happy. I’m your host, David Yang. This week I interviewed lawyer Sheryl Hadid. Hi Sheryl!


Hi David!


Are interviews copyrighted? When does an interview become copyrightable?


The answer is it depends. Copyright of speech given during an interview relies heavily on the "fixation" element of copyright law. When a work is fixed in a copy or recording, the work is created. This gives the work its copyright. Therefore, when an interview is physically recorded it becomes copyrighted.


How could the person being interviewed own the copyright to an interview?


This may be a surprise but there are moments when the person being interviewed could in fact have copyright ownership in their words. For example, if the person being interviewed receives a list of questions from the interviewer and records their calculated responses, they could have copyright ownership in their answers because they not the interviewer actually wrote down or otherwise recorded their response.

People want to be smart. So, if you ask smart questions and show an interest in a particular subject they love sharing their insight..text-quote.

However, courts are hesitant to apply this concept broadly to spoken interviews because of the impact it could have on the First Amendment and the heavy caseload it would bring to an already overloaded court system. See Falwell v. Penthouse Intern., Ltd. This also opens the door for other legal arguments such as fair use. Furthermore, there are times when contractual releases could affect the copyright and alter default copyright rules.


What are some methods to record an interview and what should the person being interviewed do?


Most often when problems with interview ownership arise it’s because persons being interviewed are unhappy with the way an interviewer uses their responses during interviews to mislead readers or viewers of a broadcast. This causes interviewees to claim their copyright was infringed because they claim to own the copyright to their speech during the interview.


When do problems with interview ownership arise, and who usually owns the copyright?


The most successful way to fix an interview is for interviewers to audio record or hand write the responses of the person being interviewed. If the interview is recorded by hand, it is helpful if the writing is legible and clearly communicates the conversation because it may help solve questions about fixation. Short hand that only describes excerpts from the interview typically are not enough to constitute fixation and copyright ownership. So please remember, if there is no fixation of the interview then no copyright exists in that interview.

Further, if you are being interviewed please be aware that you do not possess ownership over your responses in most situations. It is always best to briefly think about your answer before you respond to avoid the misuse of your words by others. And if you truly don’t feel comfortable being interviewed by a particular media source, remember you always have the power to say no to doing the interview.

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Is a web address (a domain name) subject to copyright law?


No, for a variety of reasons web addresses (also known as a domain names or URLs) aren't protected by copyright. Even though copyright doesn’t protect domain names, that doesn’t mean domain names are entirely unprotected. Trademark law protects web addresses. And for a variety of reasons, companies are often more apt to go after individual instances of trademark infringement than individual copyright infringers.


Are there easier alternatives than copyright?


Some persons and organizations hope to make the rules about using and reusing work more user-friendly. These groups may make their work freely available under Creative Commons licenses or expressly abandon them into the public domain.

But just because an author employs either of these copyright alternatives, that doesn’t mean that they are completely free of legal issues. For example, imagine you’re an advertising designer for Virgin Mobile, and you need a photo of a pretty teenage girl for your latest ad. You find a photo on Flickr that is free to use under a Creative Commons Attribution license. You use the photo in your ad campaign and plaster the photo on bus stops across Australia. This is exactly what happened, and since the photographer was adequately credited and copyright issues were non-existent everybody lived happily ever after, right?

If you have any questions about alternatives to the standard copyright scheme or how these alternatives are being utilized by thousands of artists every day, feel free to contact New Media Rights.

"Are interviews copyrighted" by NewMediaRights is licensed under CC BY NC 3.0.

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