Obtaining Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials

Listen to the Getting Permission podcast (transcript)

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You Are Responsible for Getting Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials

  • Faculty and staff members must obtain copyright permission from the content owner.
  • Always give yourself more time than you think you will need to secure permissions.
  • The Copyright Permission Guide can direct you to the right person or organization to contact for permission.

Obtaining Permission from the Copyright Clearance Center

For permission to use text materials, go to the Copyright Clearance Center Pay Per Use Search. The website will walk you through a series of menus to specify the work you wish to use and the type of use you wish to make of it. Then you will get a "quick quote" and can decide whether you're willing to pay that amount for the permissions.

In some cases, the Copyright Clearance Center will not be able to give you a quick quote and/or the ability to pay on the spot. Instead, the center will provide contact information for the copyright holder with a sample permission letter at the bottom of the page.

Read the CCC Pay Per Use instructions.

Obtaining Permission Directly from the Copyright Holder

If you can't get permission through the Copyright Clearance Center, you need to contact the copyright holder directly. 

You can use this Permission Letter Template by copying and pasting its contents into a document. Then select the parts you want, delete the rest, and modify as needed.

  • For journal articles and books that are in print, go to the publisher. 
  • For materials that are out of print, contact the author or the author's estate. 
  • There are organizations that control licensing of films and music, i.e., ASCAP, MPLC, BMI, SESAC, etc.
  • If you need help with this research, Ask a Librarian.

Emailing is perfectly legal and valid, however certified mail lets you know whether the rightsholder actually received your message. It also conveys an impression of seriousness. If you do use mail, be sure to keep a copy of the letter that you send.

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