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7:41am on Tuesday, 19th March, 2024:

Missing Word


I was approached recently to participate in a TV documentary, for which I was sent a release form.

I've received plenty of these before and usually they're no problem, but this one was asking way, way too much. For example, it required me to "freely consent to participating in activities in connection with the Program that may be hazardous and dangerous" and to authorise others to "photograph, film, videotape, record, reproduce, distribute, use, portray and/or otherwise exploit my appearance, name, likeness, views, performance, characters, poses, persona, biography, photograph, signature, social media handles, recorded image, voice or other sound or visual effects produced by me" and to "irrevocably and unconditionally waive the exercise of any moral rights" (which is meaningless under UK law as some of those rights can't be waived — that's what makes them rights).

I was further asked to agree "to follow Producer's related policies and protocols" without being given copies of said policies and protocols, and had to confirm that I was "not under any obligation to any third party which would in any way prohibit or restrict me from participating in the Program or its advertisements, publicity or promotion", which I couldn't do because I have an employment agreement with the University of Essex that requires me to deliver lectures and classes to timetable.

In another outrageous clause, I was asked to "release from liability, never sue, and bring no proceedings of any kind against Producer ... including, without limitation, for any violation of any rights of privacy, publicity, defamation, or any other personal or property right, including without limitation personal injury, property damage and/or other loss suffered by me in connection with or related to the Programme, regardless of whether caused by Producer's negligence or wilful misconduct".

When I queried what the "consideration" was that I was handing over all these rights in return for, I was told it was "the promotional opportunity of appearing in the programme", which might have been OK if they'd guaranteed I'd actually appear in the programme.

I said there was no way I was signing that, and I was told in reply that the broadcaster makes a very wide variety of productions and this was a standard boilerplate contract that worked for them all. They asked what I wanted to change.


Well here's the thing. There's a huge opening paragraph that I couldn't parse. It seemed to me that it was missing the word "of". When I asked how I should read it without that word, I was told that I was correct and it should be there. That would be understandable if this were a one-off contract, but I was given the impression that it had been used countless times before and so must have been read by countless lawyers before, some of whom would be acting on behalf of high-powered celebrities.

None of those lawyers pointed out the missing word? Really?

This is what happens when you give contracts to computer programmers. They find compiler errors in them.

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Copyright © 2024 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).