If the work in question is protected by copyright and is not subject to fair use or other legal exemptions, then you will need to seek permission from the copyright holder in order to make the reproduction or otherwise exercise one of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner. Whenever you are uncertain whether statutory exceptions apply to your specific situation you should either seek permission, or seek the advice of counsel before you proceed with a proposed use. Additional Information: Information about orphan works (when the owner cannot be located)
- Sources to Consult When Seeking Copyright Owners (including rights management organizations)
- Sample Permission Letters
- Getting Permission (UT Austin) Instructions and “difficult situations.”
- How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work (U.S. Copyright Office) Explains how to search U.S. Copyright Office catalogs records in person or for a significant hourly fee.
Sources to Consult When Seeking Copyright Owners
- Ownership information appearing on the face of or inside the item, particularly in the copyright notice
- Internet search engines
- Online telephone directories and address directories
- Print telephone directories when the owner’s geographical location is known
- Databases of trade associations or professional groups
- Archives or special collections containing the creators’ works; print and electronic resources that identify archives
- Copyright Office records
- Other online databases listing or collecting creative content
- Individuals involved in creation of the work (even if they are not owners).
- Collective Rights Organizations (Harper, UT Austin) — Describes organizations and agencies that manage rights or help identify or locate copyright owners.
- For musical works and performance rights organizations’ databases, see Music.
- For art and other images, see Images.
- Trademark research services available through commercial vendors such as Thomson-CompuMark or CT Corsearch. (Note: the UConn Library does not subscribe to these resources.)
Sample Permission Letters & Forms
- Sample Letter Requesting Permission (UT Austin)
- Sample Permission Letter (course materials) (College of Du Page)
- Copyright Search Permission Forms (Music Publishers Association)
- Working with Publishers: How to Request Permission to Deposit your Work in an institutional repository (U. Kansas) — Has templates for authors, departmental administrators, and libraries or other third parties.
- Sample Assignment of Copyright (UT Austin)
- See also Model Agreement Addenda & Licenses.
Permission to Use Student Works
- Permission to Use Student Work (PDF) for UConn course reserve
- Permission to Use Student Work (DOC) for UConn course reserve
Definition of “Reasonable Effort”
Section 108 of the Copyright Act allows libraries to reproduce published and unpublished materials under certain conditions provided that a “reasonable effort” is made to determine that the material cannot be obtained at a fair price from other sources.
The scope and nature of a reasonable effort to determine that a copy in acceptable condition at a fair price cannot be obtained will always require recourse to commonly known trade sources, i.e., current publication lists or distributors of the specific medium. The reasonable effort will vary according to the circumstances of a particular situation. If contact information for the copyright holder is available, at least one attempt to obtain permission from the copyright holder to make the desired number of copies must be made, and this attempt should be documented. The library will request from the appropriate Copyright Office or publisher the contact information for the copyright holder.
“Orphan works” describes works that are presumably still copyrighted, but whose owners may be impossible to identify and/or locate. The resulting “uncertainty surrounding ownership of such works might needlessly discourage subsequent creators and users from incorporating such works in new creative efforts, or from making such works available to the public” (U.S. Copyright Office). In 2005, the Copyright Office commissioned several studies on the topic in order to better understand the problem and identify legislative solutions. The resulting report and bill, H.R. 5889″ Orphan Works Act of 2008” recommended changes to U.S. copyright law, including limiting remedies for infringement against users who have made a reasonable, good-faith, documented attempt to locate the copyright owner, and identifying remedies should the copyright owner subsequently re-appear. As no additional activity occurred the House bill died at the conclusion of the 110th Congress. For current activity on this issue, see http://www.ala.org/advocacy/copyright/orphan.
Granting Permission to Others (To Use Your Work)
On occasion, others will ask permission to use your work. To give permission, you need to own the copyright to the work in question. When granting permission, you may choose to use a form (see links to models below). You can also selectively pre-grant permission for others to use or distribute your work according to pre-set conditions through such means as a Creative Commons license. If ownership is shared, you may still individually grant permission for others to use your work, but you must account to all other owners for any revenues received from granting that permission.