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Copyright Basics

This guide offers basic copyright information for users of copyrighted materials.

If you need to seek permission...

After reviewing the copyright exceptions that allow you to use an item without permission, if you determine none of them apply to your use, you must ask permission of the copyright owner.

Steps in seeking permission:

  1. Identify the copyright owner/creator and their contact information – not always an easy task; this can take a while.
  2. Write a permission request that includes a citation to the work; the portion you wish to use; the purpose of your use (e.g., research paper); the period of time you will use it (e.g., one semester); and, where it will be available (e.g., publicly online or through Canvas). See Columbia University’s sample letters:
  3. Once you have permission in writing (can be email), save a copy for future reference.  If you do not get a response or cannot afford the fees:
    1. Double-check your fair use review.
    2. Consider using a different resource.

The University of Texas Libraries has an excellent guide on Finding the Owners and Getting Permission

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