Permissions FAQ

Where can I find more information?

Online Resources

Books

Sample Request Letters

Online Resources

Basic Copyright Information

US Copyright Office
Information on US copyright law, copyright registration, searching registration and renewal records, law and policy, a Fair Use Index, FAQ, and links to other sites.

Copyright Renewal Records
To search for copyright renewal records prior to 1978
Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database
A searchable index of the copyright renewal records for books published in the US between 1923 and 1963.
University of Pennsylvania Libraries Copyright Registration and Renewal Records 
Indexes, summaries, scans, and analysis of of available US Copyright registration and renewal records.

Public Domain Charts (US)
To research copyright terms and when works pass into the public domain
Cornell Public Domain Chart (compiled by Peter B. Hirtle)
UNC Public Domain Chart (compiled by Lolly Gassaway)

American Library Association Resources
The slider is another way to research copyright terms and when works pass into the public domain. The ALA's Copyright Genie tool is also helpful.
Public Domain Slider (requires Flash)
Copyright Genie

Copyright Guidelines for the University Press Community
Prepared by William Strong for the University of Chicago Press and AAUP (PDF)

University-based Intellectual Property Resources

While most universities have a web page on copyright, the following are outstanding for their accuracy, usability, and detail.

Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center
This extensive website includes many useful guidelines and tools, including a Fair Use Evaluator.

Cornell University Copyright Information Center

University of Texas Library's Copyright Crash Course

Columbia University Fair Use Checklist

University of Minnesota Thinking Through Fair Use

Locating Authors and/or Their Estates

WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders)
Database of copyright holders whose archives are located in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.

Author's Registry
Resource for locating hard-to-find authors for permissions requests, searchable by email inquiry.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors
Resource for locating independent professional freelance writers.

The Dramatists Guild
Resource for locating playwrights, composers, and lyricists

A large number of well-known visual artists and their estates are represented by two agencies, ARS and VAGA:

Artists Rights Society (ARS)
Also representing sister agencies in the UK and Europe.

Visual Artists and Galleries Association (VAGA)

Locating Photographers

Professional and commercial photographers are often represented by an agency. Two of the most famous are:

Magnum

Black Star

Other places to locate photographers include:

American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)

The Agent List
Many photographers' agents are listed here.

Locating Out-of-Business Publishers

FOB: Firms Out of Business
To search for publishing firms, magazines, literary agencies, and similar organizations

Public Domain or Open Access Image Collections

The following institutions or services make public domain or otherwise open access images available. Please pay close attention to the use rights provided for any selected image, as they may or may not suit all uses.

Art Institute of Chicago

Flickr Commons
Featuring collections from dozens of national, international, state, and university libraries, archives, and museums including the Library of Congress, the U.S. National Archives, NASA, the British Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the New York Public Library, and more.

The Getty Open Content Program
Available digital images to which Getty holds the rights or that are believed to be in the public domain, to be used for any purpose without charge.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Search for images of artworks believed to be in the public domain across LACMA's overall collection.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Items in the public domain are made available under the CC0 license.
See the Met's Image Resource FAQ for more information.

NGA Images, The National Gallery of Art
Open access images from the NGA collections.

The Rijksmuseum
Images offered through the Rijksstudio can be freely used.

Fair Use: Best Practices Statements

An increasing number of professional organizations are issuing codes or guidelines of best practices in the assertion of fair use, geared toward the special contexts and nature of their materials. These do not have force of law, but since a fair use determination is highly contextual, courts often welcome the perspective of specific communities. The links below include downloadable PDFs.

Note: each professional group's approach to fair use varies; some are broader than others. Presses and authors should use their own judgment in how far they accept them.

Dance-Related Materials, Dance Notation
Dance Heritage Coalition

Documentary Film
Center for Media & Social Impact

Images for Teaching and Research
Visual Resources Association
Uses covered do not include publications, except theses and dissertations.

Media Education
National Association for Media Literacy Education

Poetry
Poetry Foundation and the Center for Media & Social Impact

Visual Arts
College Art Association

Books

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, University of Chicago Press (2017) See also CMOS Online.

The Copyright Book by William S. Strong, MIT Press, 6th edition (2014)

Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property by Susan M. Bielstein, University of Chicago Press (2006)

The Copyright Handbook: How to Protect & Use Written Works by Stephen Fishman, NOLO, 10th edition (2008)

Sample Request Forms

NOTE: Before using any of these forms, please contact your editor to see if your publisher has their own form that they would like you to use. (These are downloadable Word documents.)

Sample Permission Request for Textual Material

Sample Permission Request for Illustrations and Cover Art

Sample Interview Release

 

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