The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville has lost the paperwork outlining journalist Roy Reed’s gift of documents and recordings from his reporting career, but UA officials said a new agreement with Reed will be signed if the original gift deed isn’t found.
Reed’s audio recording of a 1980s interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton led to a public conflict last month between UA and the Washington Free Beacon over the conservative news outlet’s use of the material, part of the Roy Reed collection housed at the university.
The UA in an email Tuesday disclosed that the deed of gift is missing, responding to a public disclosure request from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The original agreement between Reed and the UA — where Reed taught journalism for 16 years — was signed in 1989.
Reed, who retired in 1995, said in an interview that he has already sent the university a letter confirming his gift and would work with the university if a new agreement is required.
The Free Beacon on June 15 published on its website a portion of the Clinton interview, doing so without asking UA for permission. The publication broke the rules for researchers accessing library special collections.
The Free Beacon later disclosed a letter from UA in which the university suspended the organization’s researchers from accessing special collections and demanded that the news outlet pull the recording from its website.
UA officials said the suspension would be lifted if the Free Beacon turned in UA’s standard permission-to-publish form, emphasizing that the Free Beacon had been warned in February about not following permission rules.
A statement from UA also noted that the university has never denied a request for permission to publish from a patron. Many universities require similar forms from researchers. UA spokesman Laura Jacobs also said the university would not take further action to get the Free Beacon to take down audio recordings it published.
The Free Beacon had CD recordings mailed from UA in March. After disclosing the UA’s demand letter, it has again published a recording without asking for permission.
“We will continue to credit the university’s library as the source of this material, but we will not give any organization or individual veto power over what we publish,” the Free Beacon’s editor-in-chief, Matthew Continetti, wrote in an email to the Democrat-Gazette last week.
As far as his interest in the archived audio, Reed said he had no problem with the Free Beacon publishing the recordings.
“I don’t see anything wrong with that. I certainly don’t object to it,” Reed said.
The university noted that in the original 1989 agreement, Reed retained copyright to donated materials. However, Reed said the interview with Bill and Hillary Clinton took place for a profile of the couple commissioned by Esquire magazine. While the profile was never published, Reed said he was paid and the magazine might own the copyright.
As for the university’s permissions rule, Reed said, “they have their reasons for it, and I’m sure they’re sound reasons.”
Jacobs said one reason is to alert researchers to seek proper permission from copyright holders in cases where the UA doesn’t own the rights.
She said the university has no information that any other such deeds are missing. The UA library special collections director who worked with Reed left UA in 2000, and around that time many documents were shuffled to a new location within UA’s main library, Jacobs said.