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Copyright at Bryan College of Health Sciences

How to Seek Permission to Use a Copyright-Protected Work

It is the policy of the Bryan College of Health Sciences Library that seeking permission will be necessary only in cases where fair use cannot be justified.  However, individual journals or publishers may have different requirements regulating when you must seek permission for use.  For example, there is not official policy regarding repeated use of a work (e.g., having uploaded a PDF into eReserves or Canvas and using that PDF for multiple semesters).  If a publisher requires requesting permission for use or repeated use, understand that publisher requirements take precedence over library policy.  

If requesting permission is necessary, there are two options for seeking permission:

  1. Requesting and paying for permissions through RightFind Academic is often more efficient, although costs will be involved.  RightFind Academic is associated with the College's Annual Academic Copyright License and can be used to facilitate requesting permissions, as they represent a large number of publishers of both books and journals.  Work with the Bryan College Library to pay for permissions obtained through RightFind Academic.
  2. Seeking permissions can save you money (no royalty fees), but may cost you a lot of time and effort.  In seeking permission, a first step can be determining if the copyright owner will allow you free use, or permission, to use the material. This requires contacting the copyright holder and explaining how you plan to use them. Many individual authors and some scholarly societies will allow you to make copies, post digital copies on an internal Web site, or even repeatedly use the material for free. The biggest problem is finding the real copyright holder. Most authors listed on an article or in a book do not own their materials and cannot give you the right to make copies or distribute them, even for educational purposes. Publishers of books and journals usually hold the copyright.  To seek permission you have to identify the correct copyright holder by checking the back of the title page or looking at the journal issue to see if there is a statement. Then you must contact each copyright holder for each item you plan to use. It sounds simple, but dealing with and waiting for responses from authors and publishers can be time consuming. For example, there may be several authors on a paper that requires contacting each author, or the publisher may have merged with another publisher. Some publishers do not have easy systems for seeking permissions, and some refuse almost all requests.