If you want to use a substantial part of copyright work and none of the fair dealing exceptions apply, you may still be able to use the material legally if you are granted the relevant permission or licence to use the copyright material for your intended use.
To cut down on stress later start thinking about permission early on. It can take some time to trace the copyright owners and gain permission.
If you need permission to use material, first check to see if the copyright holder has expressly outlined how their material may be used. They may have licensed certain use so that you do not need to apply individually for permission.
However, not all material will be annotated in this way. Where there is no explicit licence or permission stated, you will need to seek permission.
Increasingly you will see content made available with Creative Commons Licences attached. The Creative Commons Licences provide a simple standardized way for copyright owners to give permission for sharing and reuse of content.
Attribution - CC BY licence
This is the most generous, and allows others to copy, distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon work, even commercially, as long as users credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. It is recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs - CC BY-NC-ND
This licence is the most restrictive, only allowing others to download works and share them with others as long as they credit the original, but they can't change them in any way or use them commercially.
For example, look at the CoprightUser.org resources. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see the creators have licensed this material under the CC-BY licence. So, provided you acknowledge the original work, you can copy/share/adapt the material.
Watch this short video to learn more about Creative Commons. And for further information, explore the wealth of materials If you want to learn more, take some time to explore the rest of the materials available through the Creative Commons suite of webpages.
Creative Commons Kiwi by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY) license.
If there is no obvious licence or permission granted by the copyright owner you need to seek permission.
The most important thing is to START SEEKING PERMISSION AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY. Sometimes it can be difficult to trace the copyright owner, and sometimes the owners take a long time to respond or do not respond at all. You do not want to be tackling these permission issues as an afterthought in your project scheduleule, so deal with them as they arise.
If you are using material that is still in copyright, ask yourself....
Think of the permission process as a three step process.
Be aware that there could be multiple copyright owners you need to consider. In a book, there may be artists who own photographic or illustrative work copyright, the author who may own the literary copyright in the work and the publisher who owns copyright over the typographical arrangement of a work.
Often authors and illustrators assign the copyright of the work to the publisher as part of book contract processes, so the publisher can be a useful starting point for seeking permissions.
Tips for Identifying the Rights Holder
Try the Publisher First
The best starting-point for seeking permission and locating authors is generally the first publisher of a book, or the journal containing an article.
Publishers generally have rights in recent work that have been assigned by the author, i.e. as part of a book deal, the author assigns their copyright in the work to the publisher.
Even if the publisher does not hold rights they will often pass on your request to an author if they have their details.
Random House publishing (now a subsidiary of Bertelsmann) has this advice on its site:
"An author, publisher, organisation or other party may control the rights to a book. You can see who first published a book, and who owns its copyright, by checking the information on the copyright page at the front of the book. The first publisher of the book is the one you should approach about the rights.” https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/work-with-us/rights-licensing-and-permissions/
If you are using material from major publishers, e.g. bodies such as Cambridge University Press or Oxford University Press, then it is easy to locate a rights holder contact. Typically the major publisher will have a rights/permissions web pages with contact details and sometimes links to online permission forms that you can use to request permission. For example, see this CUP information.
Unfortunately, it will not always be this straightforward. You may need to spend time working out which individual or organisation is likely to be the rights holder and then trace their current contact details.
If you are unable to trace the artist to gain permission to use an image, or permission is refused, consider whether you could substitute a different image to convey the same message.
If the image is of a person, is there any copyright free image available? Or is an image available from another source that is willing to grant permission
The Using Images LibGuide has lots of helpful advice on this, including links to sites with images that are licensed for re-use without permission.
There is no set format for permission requests. As mentioned previously, some publishers will have online forms you can use for this purpose or set licence forms that need to be completed.
In all cases you should be clear about:
Below is some text that you can modify for your purposes. You can tailor this to your recipient and the exact content you wish to use. Edit the text and replace or delete all the material in [bold brackets].
SAMPLE TEXT FOR COPYRIGHT PERMISSION REQUEST
Dear [Name of copyright owner]
REQUEST FOR PERMISSION TO USE MATERIAL FROM [INSERT DETAILS OF COPYRIGHT WORK]
I am a [your position: student, researcher, scientist] at the University of Exeter. I am working as part of The Hypatia Project [insert detail about the Hypatia project].
I understand that you are the [author/publisher] of the following material:
[insert details of material sought to be used. Be specific. Outline pages/paragraph numbers and detail any illustration identifiers etc. If you want to use various materials from the same book, list them separately in a bulleted/numbered list so it is clear exactly what you are referring to].
I am writing to ask your permission to use the material in the following way:
The purpose of the use would be to [explain the aims of the Hypatia project and how the inclusion of this copyright material is integral to the project.].
If you are not the rights holder
If you do not hold the copyright in all of the material, I would appreciate any contact information you can give me regarding the proper rights holder(s). Otherwise, your permission confirms that you hold the right to grant the permission requested here.
If you agree to this request
If you agree to this request as set out above, please respond to indicate that “Permission is granted for the use of the material as described above”.
Company/Organisation: (if applicable)
Sometimes you will not be able to secure permission to reuse the material
Keep a record of all such scenarios so that you have all the detail to hand when you need to make decisions on what to do.
What can you do?
Consider if you can substitute the work with another which is out of copyright or for which you have permission or licence.
2. USE LESS MATERIAL
Can you use less material so that your use is not deemed 'substantial'? Remember that only substantial use will infringe the rights of the copyright owner. However, sometimes it can be difficult to judge this and ultimately it will be decided on a case by case basis in the event of a dispute.
3. ASSUME THE RISK
Consider the risk. If you get no response, are you prepared to proceed in the absence of permission? Consider what would happen if the rightsholder discovers you have used the content at a later date.
You can discuss these issues with your project leader to see the level of risk they are happy to assume for the project. You may need to substitute or use less material instead of proceeding.
3. DON'T USE IT
If you are refused permission, or get no response but decide that you could compromise the project by using an item that might need to be withdrawn later or could lead to dispute with a potential rightsholder, then don't use it. Look again at the substitution option.
Sometimes, you have to look at a second best option if you cannot secure permission for your intended use of your first choice materials.