Permission from copyright holders is often needed
when creating course materials, research papers, and Web sites.
You need to obtain permission when you use a work in a way that
infringes on the exclusive rights granted to a copyright holder,
i.e., reproducing part or all of a copyrighted work outside the boundaries of acceptable fair use.
The following is a step-by-step guide to aid you in planning strategies
to obtain permission to use copyrighted works for educational purposes.
Step 1: Determine if permission is needed
for the work you want to use.
a) Is the material protected under
copyright law? Remember some items (those in the public domain)
are not protected by copyright, and may be used without permission
from the copyright holder or payment of royalties. Knowing when
a work was published or if legal requirements were met is helpful
in determining if a work can be used without permission. See What
types of works and information make up the public domain and Rules of thumb for public domain works.
Step 2: Identify the copyright holder or agent.
b) Does the use fall outside the limits of fair
use? After analyzing your specific situation by applying the four
factors of fair use and concluding that your use is not fair
use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Common
examples that require written permission from the copyright owner
include: copying for commercial use, unpublished works, some specialized
works such as illustrations, and consumable materials, such as
workbooks or standardized tests. See the guideline from the 1996
Policy on the Reproduction of Copyrighted Materials for Teaching
and Research, Copying
Requiring Prior Written Permission from the Copyright Owner.
Assuming the work is copyright protected and
your use does not meet fair use criteria, the next step is to
identify the copyright owner.
For print publications, generally the publisher
is the owner of the copyrights and can grant permission for your
use. Many publishers also have online copyright permission pages that can be used
for this purpose. If the publisher is not the copyright owner,
they can probably direct you to the copyright owner.
Step 3: Send written request for permission
to use. Remember to give yourself ample lead time, as the process
for obtaining permissions can take months. Decide if you are willing
to pay a licensing fee/royalty.
Depending on the work, permission may
be required from more than one source. For example, if you wish
to use a photo from a journal, the publisher may own the copyright
for the photo but if the subject of the photo is a well known
person, you may also need to obtain permission from the individual
in the photo and the photographer.
For more information on locating copyright
holders and services and agencies that grant permissions, see Guides for locating copyright holders and Services and agencies.
Step 4: If the copyright holder can't be located
or is unresponsive (or if you are unwilling to pay a license fee),
be prepared to use a limited amount that qualifies for fair use, or
use alternative material.
Your letter should include the exact material
to be used, including title, author, and page numbers. Including
a photocopy of the material is a good idea. Include the number
of copies you wish to make, and the exact nature of the use, including
how many times or how often the material will be used, the form
of distribution, and whether the material will be sold. See the UC
Policy and Guidelines on the Reproduction of Copyrighted Materials
for Teaching and Research, Appendix 2, for more details.
For more information on writing letters
of permission, see examples of model permission letters from other universities that can be modified.
Step 5: Consult others as needed.
Contact your OTT
Campus Contact to locate the office on your campus that can
assist you in obtaining permission and in any contractual negotiations,
including payment of fees and royalties. Check your Campus Resources to find out where to go for more help.
Resources on Obtaining Permissions