Tracking down the copyright owner can be a challenge in itself. In most cases it’s not the author but actually the publisher that owns the copyright. When authors get ready to publish an article or book, more than likely they have transferred copyright over to the publisher. The Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University has complied an extensive list of resources to assist in locating copyright owners along with sample permission letters.
In order to secure permission from the copyright owner you need to write a letter that includes:
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.
Remember that you don’t need to request permission if:
If you need assistance in obtaining permission, contact the Library (email@example.com; x6365) or the bookstore (firstname.lastname@example.org; x6089) for assistance. Allow at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the term to obtain permissions. The cost of obtaining permission will be charged to your department.
Obtaining copyright permissions and high resolution images from libraries and museums in other countries can present a unique set of challenges. Each situation/country/entity is different and you may have a very positive experience, but keep the following tips in mind to help ensure smooth sailing:
Alternatively, you can find an extensive listing of various organizations that can be consulted to obtain permission to use a variety of works at the University of Texas website. The site will refer you to both domestic and foreign collective rights organizations (which provide permission for images, authors, music, and movies) as well as sources that can assist in locating copyright owners directly. You should ensure that the individual giving you permission is in fact authorized to do so and should obtain written evidence of the scope of the permission.
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