Penalties for copyright infringement are potentially costly for the individual as well as the University. Awards of up to $150,000 for each act of willful infringement may be levied. If you have any doubt regarding the use of materials, you should seek permission from the copyright holder. For assistance on deciding whether you need to request permission see, Determining Copyright and Fair Use.
Identifying the copyright holder and obtaining permission to use copyrighted works can be challenging and time consuming. We, therefore, recommend that you begin the process early, especially if the materials are for course related use. In such cases where permission is denied, or the use fee is cost prohibitive, you may need to substitute other materials.
Although printed materials often contain copyright notices with information regarding the copyright holder, these notices are not required. You should, therefore, assume that a work is copyrighted unless otherwise indicated.
For text-based works, such as books and journal articles, you can utilize the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). Fees vary depending on the type of work and how many copies you request. However, if the material is not in the CCC database, you must contact the copyright owner which is most likely the author or publisher.
The American Association of Publishers provides an online Standard Permission Request Form that you can complete, print and, mail or fax to the copyright holder. Contact information can usually be obtained online for book and journal publishers. For monographs, papers, or other individual pieces, it may be necessary to request permission from the author. For each request, keep a copy of all correspondence for your records.
Whenever possible, it is best to create a link directly to website resources. This is always permissible and no copyright issues are involved. However, if you wish to use material from a website for other purposes (e.g., in a compilation work, or for copying and distributing), you will need to go through the same process of Determining Copyright and/or performing a Fair Use analysis.
Websites often contain information regarding use of materials directly on their pages. Some sites employ a Creative Commons license to inform others of the conditions for use of their Web content. These licenses may indicate special rights for non-commercial use, require attribution, or permit redistribution.
If a web page does not contain information on permissible use, send an e-mail using an appropriate mail link on the site and request permission to use the works. Be sure that you state specifically the intended purpose/use. If the material is not online and no Web site can be found to expedite the permission process, it will be necessary to send the copyright owner a letter to request permission to use the material.
Educational exemptions apply to specific uses of multimedia works, such as film and audio recordings. See Multimedia Use. "Getting Permission," the University of Texas, offers information and resources on how to obtain permission to use non-text media, such as: images, to perform a music work, or record and distribute a musical composition, produce a play, and motion picture public performance rights. The Interactive Guide to Using Copyrighted Media in Your Courses, Baruch College, is also helpful in making decisions regarding the use of multimedia works.
If the copyright holder denies permission to use the work, or the fee excessive, the safest course is not to use the material. Theoretically, you are still entitled to make fair use of the material, but under these conditions a court might construe the fair use doctrine quite narrowly. Furthermore, a publisher or other copyright holder whose requested fee hasn't been paid, and who has not been notified that the material will not be used, often will investigate to determine if the material is being used in defiance of its demand.
If don’t receive a reply after a reasonable time (e.g., a month), or if the reply is returned as undeliverable, the safest course is adhere to fair use limits. If you wish to pursue the investigation further, the U.S. Copyright Office will, upon request, search its records for a fee and, if possible, provide you with the name and address of the most recent copyright holder of record. If the material is important to you, resorting to this service would be prudent. Even if the Copyright Office is unable to help you, your attempt demonstrates a good-faith effort to secure permission in the event of a future dispute.
For assistance in seeking permissions from copyright holders, please contact:
"Getting Permission," the University of Texas.
“Interactive Guide to Using Copyrighted Media in Your Courses,” Baruch College.
“Standard Permission Request Form,” The American Association of Publishers.