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Copyright, Fair Use, & Author Rights: Getting permission from copyright holder


Permissions to use copyrighted material must be obtained when the use is not covered by the copyright law and its exceptions.  Permissions should be in writing and from the copyright holder.  Maintain copies of all of the correspondence.

See Sample Permission Letters tab for examples of letters seeking permission.

What do publishers or journals allow you to do with yours or others work? Sherpa Romeo is a database of publisher policies. Check Sherpa or the journal itself.

Getting Permission

Step 1: Contact the Copyright Owner
Step 2: Secure Permission
Step 3: Keep a Record
What If I Reach a “Dead End”? Can it be considered an Orphan Work?

Resources - places to help find the copyright holder

Permission requests should include:

1. Your name, address, telephone number, and email address.
2. Your title/position and name of university.
3. The date of your request.
4. A complete and accurate citation (this helps to narrow down exactly to the work you are requesting permission for and if the requestee holds the copyright at all).
5. A precise description of the proposed use of the copyrighted material as well as when and for how long the material will be used. Be sure to state if you intend to provide online open-access to this resource. Include the URL to the digital collection if applicable.
6. If mailed by post, incorporate a signature line for the copyright holder including their title if they are representing a company and the date. If this is an email request, convert the email to PDF and save. It helps to rename the file and keep in a folder of permission requests if you are seeking more than one. Example: IEEE_Leroy_permission2010.pdf (IEEE = publisher name; Leroy = author’s name; permission2010 = object and date of request). Convert response to PDF as a record, it helps to add YES or NO before “permission” in the  file name structure (example: IEEE_Leroy_YESpermission2010.pdf)

Orphan Works

1. You can't identify a copyright owner
2. You can't locate the copyright owner
3. You've gotten a hold of the copyright owner but get no response

Possible solutions:
1. Go back to the fair use checklist
2. Replace the materials with other works
3. Alter your planned use
4. Conduct a risk-benefit analysis

Teaching & Copyright

"It is the instructor's obligation to obtain clearance for materials used in class."  (Getting Permission, 2007)

This applies to all materials, but expecially to coursepacks.