General releases, or liability releases, are documents releasing one party from the right to bring a legal claim against another party. General releases are helpful documents for resolving disputes between parties and preventing future conflict. Basically, one party surrenders any claims against the other party as of the effective date of the release.
In the writing world, for example, a memoirist and her publisher may want a person mentioned in the book to release, acquit and forever discharge the author and publisher of the book from any and all actions because of the references made to that person in the book. Or maybe a screenwriter wants to submit their work to a producer, and the producer wants the writer to sign a release that they may not sue the producer if the producer is working on a similar project that has been independently developed or received and reviewed. Often releases are used to permit a writer or photographer to use a person’s name and image. These are called personal releases or model releases.
The legal verbiage for a release tends to be broad in an attempt to cover any and all claims someone may have or that could be the basis of a future lawsuit. Releases need not be general. You can create a release as specific as you want, e.g. see the interview release below (and my previous blog article for more info on interview releases).
Releases need not be oneway either. Parties can give mutual releases, waiving all rights that they may have against each other. Mutual releases can be general or specific as to the claims waived by the parties. I have included an example of a general release below that can be modified to be specific and/or mutual depending on your circumstances.
There are few things that general and specific releases should include.
- A statement that one party (Releasor) releases the other party (Releasee), including any heirs, executors, administrators, successors or assignees of the Releasee, from any claim (or some specific claim) the Releasor may have or could have in the future arising out of some situation both parties are involved in together. This could also be a mutual release, whereby the Releasor and the Releasee release and discharge each other, including each other’s heirs, executors, administrators, successors or assignees, from all claims and obligations of either against the other, known or unknown.
- Consideration is necessary for a release to be valid and enforceable. Consideration need not be cash. Consideration can also be some form of specific performance like an interviewee is allowed to assist an author with a book in exchange for a general release. The consideration must have value, even if it’s one dollar. Usually, money is what most people use for consideration.
- Acknowledgment of receipt of that consideration.
- A date for when the release is effective.
- The Releasor’s signature. If the release is mutual, then both parties must sign.
- A release need not be notarized, but if you want to be ultra-conservative, then have the release signed in the presence of a notary public.
Legal Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes only. Consult a qualified lawyer in your jurisdiction for all legal opinions for your specific situation.
General [or Specific or Mutual] Release Agreement
I, [Name of Person Releasing A Legal Claim] (hereinafter “Releasor”), located at [Address of Releasor], do hereby release, acquit and forever discharge [Name of Person Receiving The Release] (hereinafter “Releasee”), located at [Address of Releasee], and Releasee’s heirs, executors, administrators, successors, and assignees, from any and all actions, claims, demands, damages, costs, loss of services, expenses, obligations and compensation, known and unknown, as of the date of this release [stop here if you want this to be a general release; if you want it to be specific then add the following] that have arisen or may arise from the following occurrence: [detail the circumstances that have given or might give rise to liability].
[If you want this release to mutual, substitute the “I…known and unknown, as of the date of this release” language above with: “I, [Name of First Person To The Release] (hereinafter “Releasor”), located at [Address of Releasor], and [Name of Second Party To The Release] (hereinafter “Releasee”), located at [Address of Releasee], hereby release and discharge each other, their respective heirs, executors, administrators, successors, and assignees, from any and all actions, claims, demands, damages, costs, loss of services, expenses, obligations and compensation, known and unknown, as of the date of this release….” Then change the rest of the release from “Releasor” to “Releasor and Releasee”.]
Releasor understands that, as to claims that are known to the parties when the release is signed, any statutory provisions that would otherwise apply to limit this release are hereby waived. Releasor also understands that this release extends to claims arising out of this incident that are not known by Releasor at the time this release is signed.
Releasor, in exchange for granting this release, acknowledges receipt of the following consideration: [add consideration].
Releasor represents that Releasor has carefully read the foregoing release, knows its contents, and voluntarily and knowingly signs this release with the express intention of discharging Releasee of any legal liabilities and obligations as noted above.
Releasor hereby declares and represents that Releasor has not been influenced to any extent whatsoever in making this release by any representation or statements regarding any injury or regarding any other matters, made by the Releasee, or by any person or persons representing them. Releasor further warrants that no claims and obligations subject to this release have been assigned to any other party.
This release contains the entire agreement between the parties hereto, and the terms of this release are contractual, not a mere recital. This release cannot be amended orally.
[Releasor’s Name, signed]
[Releasor’s Name, Printed]
Interview Release Agreement
I, [insert name of interviewee] (“Interviewee”), understand and acknowledge that [insert name of writer] (“Author”) is researching and writing about [insert subject of the work], tentatively titled [insert title of book, magazine article, or specific work] (“Work”), for the purpose of publishing the Work. Author has requested an interview with Interviewee and that Interviewee coöperate with Author in connection with the Work.
In order to aid Author, Interviewee consents to be interviewed and provide information and other materials to be used in connection with the Work, including personal experiences, remarks, incidences, quotes, dialogue, scenes, situations, characters, and recollections, as well as any documents, letters, and photographs that Interviewee thinks pertinent to the Work and interview (“Interview Materials”).
Interviewee grants and assigns to Author and Author’s licensees, successors, and assigns the following rights in connection with the Interview Materials for use as part of the Work, in perpetuity and throughout the world.
- The right to quote or paraphrase all or any portion of the Interview Materials, and to generally use and publish the Interview Materials.
- The right to use, fictionalize, and depict Interviewee’s name, image, voice, likeness and biographical data in any manner Author deems appropriate for the Work.
- The right to develop, produce, publish, distribute, market, advertise, promote, or otherwise exploit the Work, in and any and all editions, versions, revisions, languages, media, and derivative forms or uses, in any manner that Author deems appropriate. Interviewee understands and acknowledges that Author will be the sole owner of all copyrights and other rights in and to the Work.
Interviewee waives any right to inspect the Work. Interviewee further waives any claim in connection with the above-mentioned use or uses, including any claims relating to the right of privacy, the right of publicity, copyright, defamation, confidentiality, or any other right.
In consideration for the opportunity to assist Author with the Work, Interviewee acknowledges and agrees that Interviewee is not entitled to receive any form of payment from Author and/or Author’s licensees, successors, and assigns. Interviewee represents and warrants that Interviewee has full right, power, and authority to execute this agreement.
Agreed and confirmed:
Interviewee’s signature and date
Interviewee’s name (print)
Author’s signature and date
Author’s name (print)