You need to get copyright permission when you want to use someone else’s copyrighted work in a way that is not covered by fair use or another exception to copyright. This can include reproducing the work, distributing it, displaying it publicly, or creating a derivative work based on it.

Examples of when you would need to get copyright permission include:

  • Reproducing a copyrighted book, article, or photograph in a publication, website, or presentation
  • Using a copyrighted song or piece of music in a film, video, or other production
  • Displaying a copyrighted image or work of art in a gallery, museum, or other public space
  • Creating a derivative work based on a copyrighted work, such as a translation, adaptation, or paraphrase
  • Posting copyrighted material on a website or social media platform without the permission of the copyright owner

It’s important to note that copyright permission must be obtained from the copyright owner, which may be an individual or an organization. It’s also important to note that copyright permission is typically granted in the form of a license, which may have specific terms and conditions such as payment of royalties.

In general, it’s always recommended to get permission when in doubt, as copyright infringement can result in legal action, fines and penalties.

Before using copyrighted material within your business operations, these steps will help you avoid copyright violations.

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Step-by-Guide to Obtain Copyright Permissions

How to tell if a Work is Copyrighted

Step-by-Guide to Obtain Copyright Permission

They include:

  1. Find out if copyright permission is required.
  2. Identify the owner.
  3. Identify the rights required.
  4. Get your permission agreement in writing

The first step is to determine whether copyright permission is required. To put it another way, do you need an agreement, or can you use the work without permission? Determining whether to ask for copyright permission depends on two questions:

  1. Is the material covered by the law?
  2. Would the use of material violate the law?

It isn’t always possible to answer these questions with a definitive “yes” or “no.” In other cases, you might have to evaluate the risks involved in operating without permission. 

Work that is not protected under intellectual property laws, is considered to be in the public domain. Therefore, this means you can use it without permission. 

The unauthorized use of a creative work that is protected by intellectual property laws might still be legal. There are exceptions to every law protecting creative works. Therefore, these exceptions allow you to use the work in situations where authorization is not necessary. Fair use, also known as copyright law, allows you to reproduce small parts of a work for specific purposes, such as commentary or scholarship. For instance, the fair use doctrine allows you to reproduce only a few lines from a song lyric for a music review without obtaining permission from the songwriter or whoever has the copyright in that song. 

The aim is to reduce the chances of being sued. The risk of being sued is not just dependent on the use but also on other factors like whether it will be noticed, whether you are a “worthy target” for litigation or whether the other side is likely to sue.

We recommend that you adopt a conservative approach. It is worthwhile to seek permission if there is no certainty that the material is in the public domain, or its use is legal. It is vital to make a risk assessment and seek the guidance of an attorney who is knowledgeable in media or copyright law.

2. Identify the owner

It is essential to identify the owner of the work in use to obtain permission. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes, it is easy to find the rights owner by simply looking at the copyright notice attached to the work. If the notice is “Copyright 2020 PatentPC,” then look for the PatentPC company

The method used to identify owners varies from one industry to the next. For instance, stock photo organizations often own photographic reproduction rights, while performing rights societies typically own most music performance rights. The sections that follow permission rules for specific types of creative work will provide information on how to find owners.

The fact is, most uses of works require permission. Obtaining a license may be an uphill battle. However, you can often negotiate a lower fee.

It is also a good idea to get a copyright check before beginning work on a project. A well written contract is the best bet. Depending on the size of your company, it may be worth your time to make sure all of your staff is in the know about copyright laws and copyright infringement. Keeping in mind that most people involved in film production are employees of a production company, a good way to keep yourself out of hot water is to credit your crew members appropriately.

Most major publishers have their own permissions departments. These departments usually have a large number of lawyers on call, so they can be a great resource. They can also offer training, including the aforementioned. This can save you a lot of heartache should your project turn sour.

For example, you may be able to use a stock photo without paying a dime. You can also check out Copyright Information Services to learn more about the legalities of creating and publishing works of art. In some cases, you can even make a case for ownership in a court of law. Some publishers require a licensing fee if you intend to display a photograph of their property.

It is also important to understand that not all of these services are created equal. Some providers are better than others, so it is important to do your homework. After all, you don’t want to be stuck with a copyright infringement lawsuit. Fortunately, most major publishers have their own copyright attorneys, but you can always check with them to see what their fees are before committing to anything.

Next, identify the rights required to get permission. Every copyright owner has a set of rights that include the right to reproduce and distribute the work as well as the ability to modify it. Clearly state the rights required, as there are many rights associated with copyrighted work. It is as easy as stating the intended use. For example, you might want to reproduce a photograph from a magazine.

It can be difficult to ask for the proper rights. While you don’t wish to pay more than you actually need, you also don’t want the hassle of having to request permission for the second round. Sometimes, this means negotiating with rights owners to find a middle ground on fees. Identify the intended use and determine the details of how you intend to use the material. Your permissions agreement should address three common variables: exclusiveness, term, and territory.

4. Get it in writing

Relying on oral agreements or understandings is almost always a mistake. It is possible that you and the rights owner misunderstood or remember terms differently. These can lead to disputes. It will be difficult to prove the terms if you need to take your agreement to court. Do not rely on oral agreements. Get written permission agreements.

According to the general contract law principles, in a case of a contract, oral permission can be legally enforced.

If you want to use a work for a particular purpose, you may need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. When you are obtaining permission, you should ensure that the agreement is in writing. Otherwise, a dispute may arise.

Before you begin to ask for permission, you must first determine what type of rights you need. This involves figuring out the specifics of your use and territory. You also need to determine how much you will be willing to pay. Some publishers have a website where you can submit a request, but you can also contact them directly.

The process of obtaining permission can take time. If you have a deadline in mind, you might want to start the process sooner rather than later. Start by contacting the copyright holder and determining what rights you need. For example, if you are using the work for nonprofit purposes, the owner of the work may not require payment. However, if you are planning on making more copies of the work, you might be required to pay a fee.

Permission can be granted for as long as the copyright protection lasts. After this, anyone can use the material. But you should always try to obtain the necessary permission before completing the work. It can be costly and time-consuming to rework the work after it is finished.

If you want to ask for permission to make an online copy of a book or magazine, you may need to download the permission form from the publisher’s website. Be aware that you may be limited in what you can do, especially if the material is published in the past.

The process of obtaining permission for a work can take a few weeks or months, so don’t delay.

How to tell if a Work is Copyrighted

It is well-known that the acquisition of copyright permissions for publishing is an ethical practice. Copyright protects original works. 

How can you tell if a work of authorship is copyrighted?

The United States Copyright Office maintains a database for copyright permissions. This information is available online and you can use the database to find out if a particular work is copyrighted. You can search the database by title, author, or publisher.

Before searching the database, you will need to know the name of the person who owns the copyright. Typically, the owner is the author. However, some authors may have transferred the copyright to a publisher.

Once you have the correct copyright owner, you can request permission from the owner to record a lecture or recording. You must ask for permission from the subject and cite the work. If you are using images of the work, you must contact the copyright holder and explain your intentions.

Another option is to seek permission from a local or regional library. In many cases, these libraries will provide you with access to their archives. Ask for permission in writing and allow two months for the process.

The Library of Congress has a vast catalog of materials. Many of these can be searched by ISBN, language, or subject.

In addition to the catalog, the Library of Congress has a copyright database. It contains information on how a work was copyrighted and who owns the rights. A full set of copyright records is available at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, and the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Chicago have a reasonably complete set.

Another option is to use the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database. This is a searchable index of book renewal records. There is only a partial set of Class A renewals.

Several projects have scanned copyright records from 1950 to 1978. These records can be searched through the Catalog of Copyright Entries.

Steps to determine if a work is copyrighted.

All copyrighted works have a copyright notice. A copyright notice appears in most cases at the beginning of a book or at the end of the article.

To find copyrighted work, you can search the online database using a title, creator’s name, and keyword.

If you don’t have access to the data online or the information isn’t available, you can check the catalogs at a physical library.

Ask the Copyright Office for a Search

If none of the above steps produce results, you can request the Copyright Office to search for the registration. The Copyright Office will provide a detailed description of the fees you will need in order to complete the search.

Now over to you

In case of any issues that can be encountered when trying to obtain copyright permissions, our team of experts is happy to help you with your questions. Our team includes eminent researchers as well as publication experts.