Is Your Oral History Legal and Ethical?

9 Further Reading

Edward Baden-Powell, Alasdair Bleakley and Jeffrey Eneberi, Intellectual Property and Media Law Companion, fourth edition, London: Bloomsbury Professional, 2010.
A clear and concise examination of the law, practice and procedure of intellectual property and media law covering copyright, patents, trademarks, design protection and database rights.

Graham Cornish, Copyright: Interpreting the Law for Libraries, Archives and Information Services, sixth edition, London: Facet, 2015.
Explains the provisions of the UK Copyright Act and supporting legislation in quick and easy question-and-answer form. Coverage of moral rights and areas such as originality, databases, and the use of broadcast material in education. Wikipedia, Flickr, MySpace, Yahoo, Creative Commons and Open Archives are considered in a copyright context. All types of material that may attract copyright are considered, including: literary, dramatic and musical works; artistic works; sound recordings; films and videos; broadcasts; databases; and, computer programs and websites.

Louise Corti, Veerle Van den Eynden, Libby Bishop & Matthew Woollard, Managing and Sharing Research Data: A Guide to Good Practice, London: Sage, 2014.
Sets out how to embed plans for sharing data, including interviews, in project design and for future use.

Martyn Hammersley & Anna Traianou, Ethics in Qualitative Research: Controversies and Contexts, London: Sage, 2012
Debates ethical issues and how these are determined by values external to research which may be dependent on particular situations and which may conflict with one another.

Theodore Karamanski, Ethics and Public History: An Anthology, Malabar: Kreiger Publishing, 1990.
An American collection of articles on ethical issues.

A. King, ‘“Say nothing”: silenced records and the Boston College subpoenas’, Archives and Records, 2014, vol. 35, issue 1.

David McMenemy, Alan Poulter and Paul Burton, A Handbook of Ethical Practice: A Practical Guide to Dealing with Ethical Issues in Information and Library Work, Oxford: Chandos, 2007.
Looks at all of the ethical issues facing information and library professionals including a detailed discussion of the issues that impact on the day-today practice of information workers in the twenty-first century, with case studies discussing potential solutions to ethical problems faced.

Beth McMurtie, ‘Secrets from Belfast’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, accessed online <> August 2019

John Neuenschwander, A Guide to Oral History and Law, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, second edition 2014.
A very useful guide though mainly relates to US copyright law.

National Oral History Association of New Zealand, Code of Ethical and Technical Practice, NOHANZ: nd, online at

Oral History Association [USA], The Principles and Best Practices for Oral History, OHA, revised October 2009, online at

Tim Padfield, Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers, fifth revised edition, London: Facet, 2015.
This comprehensive manual outlines copyright law in the UK with special reference to materials relevant to archive and records collections such as maps, legal records, records of local authorities, records of churches and faiths, most notably unpublished works. It also offers advice on rights in the electronic environment and the problems associated with rights clearance; and covers related areas such as moral rights and rights in databases.

Daphne Patai, “Ethical problems of personal narratives, or, who should eat the last piece of cake?”, International Journal of Oral History, no. 8 (Feb 1987).
A clear discussion of the ethics of oral history.

Wendy Rickard, “‘Oral history – more dangerous than therapy?’: interviewees’ reflections on recording traumatic or taboo issues”, Oral History, vol.26 no.2 (Autumn 1998) online at
A review of ethical issues generated by the re-use of archived data.

Sheena Rolph, “Ethical dilemmas: oral history work with people with learning difficulties”, Oral History, vol.26 no.2 (Autumn 1998).
Debates issues relating to interviews with vulnerable adults with learning difficulties.

Margo Shea, ‘Feminist oral history practice in an era of digital self-representation’, in Katrina Shrigley, Stacey Zembrzycki & Franca Iacovetta (eds), Beyond Women’s Words: Feminisms and the Practices of Oral History in the Twenty-First Century, New York: Routledge, 2018.
Sets out three ‘feminist obligations’ for feminist oral historians which might be seen as applicable generally.

Paul Ticher, Data Protection for Voluntary Organisations, third edition, London: Directory of Social Change, 2009.
Data Protection explained including fair processing, data subject consent, restrictions on direct marketing, security and enforcement plus freedom of information and how it relates to charities.

Valerie Raleigh Yow, Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences, third edition, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
An excellent guide which includes a useful chapter on ethical issues.

^Back to top