Generic Forms: A Prescription For Trouble

By Brian Taylor Goldstein


How can an organization that presents music programs, and puts some of them on the Internet, find a good general release form for artists/speakers to sign?

The tricky part about forms is not finding them, but choosing which one is right. There are lots of sources for good general release forms—the Internet, formbooks, colleagues, etc. We provide a list of formbooks that we recommend on our website However, to select the right form, you need to know what you need.

A “release” is just another word for “permission”, and, like all other contracts, it memorializes an agreement between two parties. So, in order to know what form you need, you need to know what permissions you need and what permission the other party is willing to grant. For example, if you are presenting a music program and you want a form through which a musician will give you the right to record their performance and place it on the internet, you will want a form that addresses the following issues: (1) Is the musician expecting to get an extra fee in exchange for granting permission?(2) Do you want to place the entire performance on the Internet, or just excerpts?(3) Will you be posting the performing on your own website or on other websites such as YouTube?(4) Can you leave the recording up indefinitely, or will the musician be able to tell you to take it down? (5) If there is more than one musician performing, such as a band or ensemble, will you require a release from each performer or does one person have the right to grant permission on behalf of everyone else? and, perhaps most importantly, (6) Is the musician performing his or her own music? Remember: unless the musician is also performing music he or she wrote themselves, they cannot give you permission to record it. You will need to get that permission from the composer as well as from the musicians.

There is no “generic” permission form or release that will apply to everyone in every situation. Any form or any contract is only “good” if it addresses all of the elements of your specific circumstances and successfully communicates the understanding between the parties and covers all of the necessary. It may not surprise you to learn how often I have been contacted by someone who found what they believed was a “generic” form, filled in the blanks, and found out too late that it didn’t give them the rights or permissions they needed for their specific circumstances. So, when it comes to forms, don’t go for the generic…go for the prescription you need. Before you go hunting around for the right form, first figure out what you need, then start reading and editing forms and until you get the one that fits just right.


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The purpose of this blog is to provide general advice and guidance, not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney familiar with your specific circumstances, facts, challenges, medications, psychiatric disorders, past-lives, karmic debt, and anything else that may impact your situation before drawing any conclusions, deciding upon a course of action, sending a nasty email, filing a lawsuit, or doing anything rash!

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