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Rights and Permissions

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The Oral History Center (OHC, formerly the Regional Oral History Office or ROHO), a research group of The Bancroft Library, documents the history of California, the nation, and the interconnected global arena. OHC produces carefully researched, audio/video-recorded and transcribed oral histories, and interpretative historical materials for the widest possible use. In service to our mission OHC makes full transcripts of the interviews available for download as a PDF.

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of any materials they may wish to use, making fair use determinations, investigating the owner(s) of the copyright and, where necessary, obtaining permission for the intended use, as described below.

Quoting from the Transcript

In keeping with Library Permissions Policies, researchers seeking to quote from a transcript in researchers’ own publications or other public displays do not need copyright permission to make uses that constitute “fair use” under copyright law. More information about fair use, as well as laws and policies outside of copyright that also affect publication permission can also be found on the Copyright Basics & Fair Use page.

In the majority of cases, the copyright to the interview has been assigned to the Regents of the University of California (UC Regents). A copyright statement is available at the beginning of each transcript, and can be confirmed by Library staff if the statement is unclear or missing. The Library makes no representations about the accuracy or completeness of copyright ownership information in its collections.

As indicated in the chart provided on the Library Permissions Policy page, for instances in which a researcher’s intended usage of quotations from an oral history transcript would exceed fair use and it is the UC Regents who hold copyright to the underlying work, a researcher must request copyright permission to publish by completing and signing the Library’s Permission to Publish Request and Agreement.

Quoting from Audio/Visual Interviews

Historically, all interviews were transcribed from their original recordings (usually on reel to reel tapes or cassettes) and interviewees were given the right to review, edit, and seal the interview if they wished. Many interviewees submitted edits, deletions, and seals upon reviewing the full transcript. When these edits were made in the final transcript that document became the document of record, meaning that end-users are required to quote from the transcript rather than the original recordings, which remain unedited.

We understand that there may be requests to listen to, and possibly use the audio recording, rather than the written word. In order to allow access to this material while preserving the intent behind having the transcript be the document of record, the following steps must be taken:

1. View the transcript

Most oral histories have published transcripts available, either online as a PDF or as a bound volume in the reading room.  You will want to consult this transcript to get an idea of what quotes you are interested in using. The transcripts can be found by using the search function on our homepage or by searching the Library’s online catalog, UC Library Search.

2. Listen to the Recording

If you would like to request to listen and/or view the original recordings in the reading room, submit a request for the media (tape, CD, DVD, etc) found in the transcript in our online request system, Aeon. Instructions on how to do so can be found on the online Aeon guide.

In some instances the original recording is fixed on a carrier that is not accessible for playback in the reading room, like reel-to-reel tape (listed as phonotape A or phonotape B in the catalog record). In this case, once your request is received via Aeon library staff will work on obtaining an access copy of the material. You will be notified via email once the interview is ready for use in the reading room.

The Director of the Oral History Center will need to approve your request before access can be allowed, as all OHC produced A/V material is restricted.

3. Match Audio to Transcript

In order for a digital file of the A/V interview to be released and/or permission to be granted for you to publish the material you will need to complete the Permission to Publish Request and Agreement.

Please include the following information in your request: the exact quote from the transcript (include a page number from transcript and block of text), the corresponding time codes from the media you wish to use, and your transcription of the recorded audio.

Crediting the Oral History Center

Whenever using, quoting, and publishing any materials produced by the Oral History Center, scholarly conventions require full source citation. The Library suggests the following format, or an equivalent format conforming to discipline-specific citation standards:

[Name of Interviewee], [Title of Interview], [Name of Interviewer], [Date of Interview], Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Note that older interviews may have the former name of the Regional Oral History Office, please only use the current name of the Oral History Center when citing. When publishing in a digital medium, please include a link back to the OHC homepage.

Any questions not answered on this page or at the links provided may be sent to the Library’s Copyright & Information Policy Specialist, Michael Lange, at mlange@berkeley.edu.