Copyright & Fair Use Basics

Requesting Permission from the Copyright Holder

If you've determined you need to request permission from the copyright holder to use their work:

1. Identify the Copyright Holder

  • Check if there is a copyright notice on the work that identifies the author
  • Keep in mind there may be multiple copyright holders
  • Has the copyright changed hands? It may no longer belong to the original creator
  • The method of identifying owners differs depending on the industry

2. Identify the Rights You Need

  • Copyright is a bundle of rights. What specific rights would you like to request permission for? This could include:
    • Reproduce
    • Distribute
    • Modify
  • Would you like exclusive or non-exclusive rights?
  • What length of time do you need the rights?

3. Be Prepared

  • Plan ahead: requesting permission could take time
  • Submit your request and obtain the response in writing
  • Be prepared for the possibility of licensing fees
  • Multiple rounds of negotiation may be necessary 
  • Ultimately, the copyright holder could say no

Additional Resources