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The home page of Indiana University Libraries' guide to copyright law.


Cartoon on permissions








                                                     IF ONLY IT WERE ALWAYS THIS EASY.....


Do you need permission for you use? 

You will need to obtain permission if the material you want to use is (1) covered by copyright and (2) your use would neither be a fair use nor fall within another statutory limitation, such as the exception for face-to-face teaching. For more information on these topics, see the Public Domain, Fair Use, or Copyright for Instructors pages.

Finding the Copyright Owner of a Work

The copyright notice (e.g., "© 2014 The Trustees of Indiana University") on a physical copy of a work can be used to identify the copyright owner at the time of publication. Sometimes physical copies of a work do not include a copyright notice or the rights have been assigned or transferred to another party. For works registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, you can search records of registered books, music, art, periodicals, and other works at Current copyright owners and their contact information can be found for works registered for licensing with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) by searching the CCC website at The owners of musical works can be found for compositions registered with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or the Harry Fox Agency.

If the copyright owner cannot be located, the work has become "orphaned" and you may be unable to use it. The problem of "orphan works" has been investigated by Congress, and several bills have been proposed, though none have become law.

Obtaining Permission

Once you have found the copyright owner, you'll want to ask for permission to use the material. Certain entities, such as the Copyright Clearance Center, may also help you obtain permission to use a particular work.

If you determine that you need to obtain permission for reuse of copyrighted material, you should communicate complete and accurate information to the copyright owner. To expedite the process, the American Association of Publishers provides the following  advice: 

  • Request permission as soon as you know you might need the material. The earlier your request, the better. In the event that your request cannot be granted, you will need time to substitute other materials. Publishers need time to research the extent to which permission may be granted, since they do not always control the rights.
  • Include all of the following information in your request:
    • author's, editor's, and translator's full name(s);
    • title, edition, and volume number of book or journal;
    • copyright date;
    • ISBN for books or ISSN for magazines and journals;
    • numbers of the exact pages the contet you want to reprodcuce appears on
    • figures and illustrations if you are requesting a chapter or more, both exact chapter(s) and exact page numbers;
    • whether material will be used alone or combined with other photocopied material;
    • number of copies to be produced;
    • name of college or university;
    • course name and number;
    • semester and year in which material will be used;
    • instructor's full name;
    • method of reproduction (photocopying, scanning, etc.)
  • Request permission whether or not works are in print.
  • Direct your request to the individual publisher's permissions department, or a copyright clearance service, not to the author. If publishers do not control the rights, they will inform you whom to contact. The directory Literary Market Place, available in most libraries, annually updates publishers' contact information.
  • Provide your complete address and the name of a contact person, email, and telephone number in case there are any questions.

For more information on obtaining permission to reuse copyrighted materials, please visit:

Sample Letters Requesting Permission to Reproduce Copyrighted Material

Further Reading