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Intellectual Property (copyright & plagiarism): Permissions

Permission not required!

Permission is NOT required if:

  • your use of a work falls under a statutory exception in the copyright code
  • the item has a Creative Commons license
  • the work is in the public domain

More help

Sections 4.92-4.101 of the Chicago Manual of Style 16/e, available at the library Reference desk, has a good section on the permissions process

When in doubt, ASK!

Statute (law) is one thing, but case law negotiates the real-life application of statutes—and case law is shifting quickly. Publishers are challenging the fair use doctine by adopting licencing for anything besides personal information, including uses in education.  Permission from the rights holder should be sought for any item uploaded in Blackboard. A good guide to the permissions process may be found in the current Chicago Manual of Style,available at the Paul Meek Library reference desk.


When making a permission request:

  1. Determine if permission is needed for the work you want to use, and decide if you are willing to pay a licensing fee or royalty
  2. Identify the correct rights holder; authors may not hold copyright to their published work
  3. Send a written permission request, remembering to allow plenty of response time; permissions requests can take months. Be clear—state precisely what material you wish to use, how it will be used, what sort of permission you want, and for how long
  4. Keep a hard copy of every action and contact with a rights holder; written permission is contractual while verbal permission is unenforcable

If you cannot locate the copyright holder, or if they are unresponsive, or if you are unwilling to pay a licensing fee, be prepared to use only what would fall within the terms of fair use or choose another resource. Be certain to include in your notes or list of credits a legal copyright notice for ANY material you use

    Getting Permission

    If you cannot meet the photocopying guidelines, then you must get permission to copy and distribute the work. Requests should be sent on letterhead, together with a self-addressed return envelope, to the Permissions department of the publisher or proprietor in question. Include in the request:

    • A complete description of the material to be used including author, title, editor, compiler, translator, and edition.
    • The exact portion of the material, pages, and a photocopy if possible
    • A description of how it will be used, including how many times, the number of people it will be distributed to, under what conditions (i.e. on or off campus, online course...)
    • How the material will be reproduced (photocopy, off-set, digitized, etc.)
    • A place for the recipient to sign to indicate that permission has been granted.

    The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) also has the right to grant permission and collect fees for photocopying rights for certain publications. It is often the fastest and most efficient way to obtain permissions.

    Creative Commons

    Creative Commons logo

    Get your work out there!  Be proactive wth Creative Commons licensing--costs nothing, does a lot

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