How To Obtain Permission

Obtaining Permission Directly from the Copyright Holder

Plan ahead when requesting copyright permission directly from the copyright holder. It may take several weeks, or even longer, to identify and locate the copyright holder and to receive a reply to your request. What's more, contacting each individual copyright holder every time you require copyright permission may be a lengthy, time-consuming and administratively burdensome process. For most print and online publications, the publisher is usually a copyright holder capable of providing permission. If you cannot identify the copyright holder, you may need to request a search by the U.S. Copyright Office. The Copyright Office can search only those works that have been registered. However, as discussed in Copyright 101 registration is not a requirement for copyright protection. Publisher and author trade associations as well as online search engines are helpful resources for locating copyright holders. If a copyright holder is deceased, contact the executor of his estate.

At the minimum, your permission request should include the following:

  • Your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address
  • Your title, position and institution's name
  • The date of your request
  • The title of the work to be copied with a description and citation of that work
  • A description of how the work is to be used, by whom and for how long
  • A signature line for the copyright holder to sign, signifying that permission has been granted
It is important to note that a lack of response from the copyright holder does not, under U.S. law, convey permission. In addition, some works may contain materials, text, images and graphics, from multiple copyright holders and may require separate authorization from each one. Also, simply acknowledging the source of content is not a substitute for copyright permission.

Obtaining Permission through the Copyright Clearance Center

Copyright Clearance Center provides a streamlined and efficient way to obtain permission to use copyrighted information in both print and digital formats. You can access the usage rights to the most sought-after journals, books, magazines and other copyrighted materials from hundreds of thousands of authors, publishers and other copyright holders worldwide at In many cases, Copyright Clearance Center can provide instant authorization for the use of copyright-protected content. Copyright Clearance Center also provides rights to use and share content published outside of the U.S.

*Wording based on the Copyright Guidelines of the Cannell Library, Clark College, Vancouver, Washington.
Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011, 9:18 AM