Obtaining and Giving Permissions
- When in Doubt Seek Permission
- Requesting Permission
- Denied/Unanswered Permission Requests
- Broad Requirements for Using Copyrighted Materials
Penalties for copyright infringement may potentially be very costly for the individual and the University. An award of up to $150,000 for each act of willful infringement may be levied. When in doubt regarding the use of materials, seek copyright permission. Printed and online items often contain copyright notices that provide information regarding materials use and permissions. These notices may indicate special rights for educational use, provide general guidelines, or present information on how to contact the owner to obtain permission. If a web page does not contain a copyright notice, send an e-mail using an appropriate mail link on the site and ask for permission to use the item. If the material is not online and no Web site can be found to expedite the permission process, it will be necessary to send the copyright owner (or if that is not known, the publisher) a letter to request permission to use the material. See also Works Protected by Copyright.
For assistance in seeking permissions from copyright holders, please contact
Mark Muehlhaeusler, Director, Copyright and Rights Management, Lauinger Library (202-687-1870 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dahlgren Memorial Library (202-687-1448 or email@example.com
Robert Oakley, Director, Williams Law Library (202-662-9160)
The Office of University Counsel (202-687-6457).
Determining where to go to seek copyright permission can be a rather daunting task. If the work is part of a book or a journal article, you can go to the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). If the CCC does not handle the material for which you seek permission, you must contact the copyright owner, most likely the author or publisher. The American Association of Publishers (AAP) provides a Standard Permission Request Form or you may use one of the request templates provided by the University. Print resources to consult are The Literary Marketplace (for books) and Ulrich's International Periodicals (for journals), available in most libraries. For monographs, papers, or other individual pieces, it may be necessary to request permission from the author. For each request, keep a copy of all correspondence for your records.
The University of Texas (UT) "Getting Permission" page lists sources to go to when requesting copyright permission to use images, perform a music work or record and distribute a musical composition, produce a play, and motion picture public performance rights.
Try to request permission at the same time you order textbooks: the earlier, the better, in the event your request cannot be granted and you need to substitute other materials.
Remember, a copyright holder may charge whatever fee it wishes. Often it will waive any fee, particularly if you state your use is for nonprofit, educational purposes. If you believe the requested fee is too high, you may try to negotiate a lower one.
If the copyright holder denies permission to use the work, or if it demands a fee or other conditions that you are unwilling to meet, the safest course is not to use the material. Theoretically, you are still entitled to make fair use of the material, but under these conditions a court might construe the fair use doctrine quite narrowly. Furthermore, a publisher or other copyright holder whose requested fee hasn't been paid, and who has not been notified that the material will not be used, often will investigate to determine if the material is being used in defiance of its demand.
If, after a reasonable time (e.g., a month), you receive no reply to your request, or if the reply is returned as undeliverable, the safest course would still be not to use the material beyond fair use. If you wish to pursue the investigation further, the U.S. Copyright Office will upon request search its records for a fee and, if possible, provide you with the name and address of the most recent copyright holder of record. If the material is important to you, resorting to the service would be wise. If the Copyright Office cannot help you, you have protected yourself in the event of a future dispute by making a good-faith effort to secure permission.
Even if your use of copyrighted materials is "fair use," you should always:
- Include a copyright notice. Whenever you reproduce (photocopy, scan, etc.) copyrighted work, whatever the length and whether you have advance permission or not, you should include a notice of copyright on the copy in a prominent location.
- Restrict the distribution of copies. For printed works, do not make more than one copy per student; do not charge the students more than the cost of reproduction; and do not collect the copies back from the students at the end of the course (the copies become the student's property). Violation of any of these rules markedly decreases the protection of the fair use doctrine. For electronic works, see the TEACH Act guidelines on providing access only in connection with a class session and on imposing reasonable downstream controls.
- Avoid "anthologizing." Anthologizing is the creation of an ad hoc, textbook-like compilation of chapters, monographs and the like from existing sources, in or out of print. If you wish to anthologize, obtain permission from each author whose work you include. (One helpful source for permissions is the Georgetown University Bookstore, which operates a competitively priced course-packet program for faculty members.)
- Keep a copy of all permission requests and responses.
Copyright 1993-2007 Georgetown University