If your calls aren't gut busting hilarious calls that were recorded with a professional phone hybrid then don't even BOTHER wasting your money on paying off call subjects! Release forms are for pranksters who are SURE that they have a hit that will get major airplay and sell!
Having said that... Yes you need WRITTEN permission -- not verbal. Otherwise how can you prove what was agreed upon? You must also send them a copy of the conversation so there's no disagreement about the contents. Let them completely beware about what's going on. No surprises. Also explain in an accompanying letter some of the seemingly obvious things like that the call may be broadcast on radio, etc.
Interesting note: In recent months many studios have added the word "universe" to the wording of their release forms. Previously they only worded it as "throughout the WORLD". But apparently someone sued a record company when a song was played for astronauts in space. How ridiculous is this?! This exemplifies how important each word IS. Remember we live in America - the land of lawsuits and hungry lawyers. This release form should not be relied upon as lawsuit proof. Hire your OWN attorney.
Dollar amount paid: I base payment to call subjects on several factors: What is the budget for the CD release? How angry did they get? How long was the call? How many other people were on the phone (that need to be paid)? Was it a one-in-a-million call? Do you get similar calls often? Sometimes as little as $100 is reasonable payment. I heard that Willie P. Richardson gets people to sign off for NOTHING. Maybe $300 is fitting for an angry call. I have heard that in order for it to be a valid contract there has to be at least some "consideration". If paying them nothing then say "for good and valuable consideration" instead of the dollar amount. It is never really an issue of money but rather an issue of whether or not the call subject wants to be on a CD or not and if they can appreciate "smut humor". Offer to pay them what they're worth. Keep them happy; After all you pulled a prank on them! If they say no then just pursue other call subjects. Keep on making calls. Keep in mind that $100 is more than most Jerry Springer contestants got paid - and that program was raking in the BUCKS! But these wacko contestants came to Jerry wanting to be on the show. You are approaching everyday people. Expect only about perhaps a 55% success rate. It seems to be more about whether or not they have a sense of humor than the money. Call subjects who freely use profanity are MUCH more likely to sign off.
The contract basically has the call subject sign over ownership of the conversation to you. Anything less than full ownership opens up too much of a can of worms. By owning it you are allowed to chop up, and edit the conversation (if needed). Perhaps as you near completion of your CD you discover that you have run over time by 10 seconds. You would need to allow yourself the right to delete part(s) of a call to fit all of your calls on a 74 minute CD. With this contract you are indeed allowed to truncate the call; however you are not allowed to add outtake speaking parts of their voice (that the call subject has never heard before). What is on the tape or CD that you give to them is what you have to work with. You MUST give them a copy of the conversation to listen to.
This contract is a straight buyout agreement with a one time payment. If the call subject happens to be a SAG actor wanting to be paid a SAG scale rate AND/OR royalties based on album sales tell them "forget it". There is little money to be made with prank calls, this is not a SAG feature film we're talking about here, and you are not Warner Brothers! Doing the accounting would be a complete nightmare. Instead offer to pay them a good reasonable buyout amount (take it or leave it).
This contract and this page is posted for entertainment purposes only. It should not be relied upon as personalized "legal advice". If you need legal help then hire a lawyer!
Release Form / Voiceover Artist Agreement
__________EMPIRE RECORDS, LLC__________
PO Box 555
Gators Creek, GA. 90210-1555
Date printed above
Name printed above
Re: "Voiceover" Artist Agreement
- I represent to you that, for adequate consideration of TWO HUNDRED dollars I agree to render my services as a voiceover artist, which includes the use of my voice and performance on the following recording:
"____NAME OF PRANK CALL____!"
I further acknowledge that I have previously listened to and approved of the Recording, and approve of my voice being recorded.
I understand that (for my privacy) the following words have been ERASED from the recording: "Joe Jones", "Joes' Garage", "Detroit".
- The recording together with the results and proceeds of my services embodied therein, is intended to be and shall be deemed a "work made for hire" (as that term is defined as used in the United States Copyright Act) for you and Artist. You and artist shall have the sole and exclusive right to copyright the Recording in your name as the owner and author thereof throughout the world for the full term of the copyright, including any renewals and extensions thereof. If the Recording shall not constitute a "work made for hire" for any reasons, I hereby irrevocably assign you to all rights in and to such Recording, including but not limited to the sound recording copyrights and the copyright in the underlying composition.
- Without limiting the foregoing, you and your designees shall have the sole, unlimited and perpetual worldwide right (but not the obligation) to manufacture, distribute, and sell phonograph records derived from the Recording(s) in any medium now or hereafter known, to exploit the same throughout the world and universe, and to use the Recording in connection therewith.
- I further acknowledge that this is the sole compensation I will be paid with respect to the Recording and my services and you or Artist will have no obligation to make any other payments to me whatsoever in connection therewith. On my behalf and on behalf of my heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns, I hereby release Your Record Company Name, ____YOUR NAME___, your agents, licensees, successors and assigns, from any and all claims, liabilities and damages arising out of the rights granted hereunder, or the exercise thereof. I am over eighteen (18) years of age.