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When the use of copied material exceeds the limits of fair use and requires that permission be requested, it is critical that complete and accurate information be given to the copyright owner.  Permission should be requested as soon as possible, and the request should be directed to the publisher, not the author.  If the publisher does not control the rights, they will inform the requestor whom to contact.

The Association of American Publishers suggests that the following information be included in a letter requesting permission to copy in order to expedite the process:

  • Author, editor, and/or translator
  • Title and edition (book) or volume/issue number (journal, magazine, or newspaper)
  • Copyright date
  • Chapter or article and exact page numbers
  • ISBN for books, ISSN for journals and magazines
  • Use to be made of duplicated materials (class distribution, library reserves, course packet, etc.)
  • Number of copies to be made
  • Whether or not the material is to be sold
  • Method of reproduction (photocopying, scanning, etc.)
  • Name of school
  • Course name and number
  • Semester and year in which material will be used

The request should also include a place for the copyright owner to sign, indicating whether permission is granted, denied, or granted with conditions.  The name of the instructor and complete contact information (mailing address, phone and fax numbers, email address) should be included in case there are any questions.

The request (preferably two copies–one to be returned to the requestor, one for the publisher’s files) should be sent, together with a self-addressed return envelope, to the permissions department of the publisher in question.  If the address of the publisher does not appear at the front of the material, it may be obtained through a directory publication such as the Literary Market Place, by checking the publisher’s website, or through the assistance of a librarian.

A sample copyright permission form letter is available for download:

The process of granting permission requires time for the publisher to check the status of the copyright and to evaluate the nature of the request.  It is advisable, therefore, to allow sufficient lead time to obtain permission before the materials are needed.  In some instances, the publisher may assess a fee for permission.  It is not inappropriate to pass this fee on to the students who receive copies of the photocopied material.

Alternatively, a licensing agency may be used to secure permission to copy and use materials.  The Copyright Clearance Center, for example, is a convenient and widely used licensing agency that secures permission to copy from publications registered with the CCC on behalf of the requestor for a fee.  The requestor only interacts with the CCC.  For more information on using a licensing agency to obtain copyright permission, Erskine faculty may contact the library.

If you have any questions regarding copyright, fair use, or how to obtain copyright permission, feel free to contact John Kennerly.


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Erskine College admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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