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Copyright - Getting Permission

Permission is required to use a work...

  • for commercial purposes
  • repeatedly
  • in its entirety or when it's longer than 2,500 words

Copyright Clearance Center facilitates getting permission to reproduce articles and book chapters in photocopies, coursepacks, library reserves, websites, and more. 

If you don't obtain permission through an authorized agent such as the CCC, you must contact the copyright owner.

Contact Copyright Owner

  • The copyright owner is often named in the formal copyright notice accompanying the work. Such notices are no longer required, so many works lack the notice.
  • Reference librarians can help find names and contact information. Call the parties on the phone and ask direct questions about ownership and rights of use.
  • Copyright owners have wide discretion when responding to your request.
  • Permission may be granted, denied, or granted only on condition of paying a fee.
  • Copyright owners have no obligation to respond at all.
  • For most educational and research use, copyright owners are cooperative.

A telephone call may give you the exact name and address of the person to contact or even give you an immediate answer to your request. Oral permission granted over the telephone is legally valid, but good practice requires that you document the permission with a letter the grantor signs and returns to you. 

Sample Letter

[letterhead stationery or return address]
[Name and address of addressee]

Dear [title, name]:
[If you called first, begin your letter: This letter will confirm our recent telephone conversation.] I am [describe your position] at [name of university]. I would like your permission to [explain your intended use in detail, e.g., reprint the following article in a coursepack for my course.]

[Insert the full citation to the original work.]

Please indicate your approval of this permission by signing the letter where indicated below and returning it to me as soon as possible. My fax number is listed above. Your signing of this letter will also confirm that you own [or your company owns] the copyright to the above described material.

Thank you very much.


[Your name and signature]


[Type name of addressee below signature line]