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Obtaining Permission


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. You should assume that a work is copyrighted unless otherwise indicated.

If you have any doubt regarding the use of materials, you should seek permission from the copyright holder. Identifying the copyright holder and obtaining permission to use copyrighted works can be challenging and time-consuming. We suggest that you begin this process early, especially if the materials are for course-related use.

For assistance deciding whether you need to request permission see: Determining Copyright and Fair Use.

Copyright Holders

In general, copyright holders have the exclusive right to (including authorizing others to):

  • Reproduce the work in whole or in part
  • Prepare derivative works, such as translations, dramatizations, and musical arrangements
  • Distribute copies of the work by sale, gift, rental, or loan
  • Publicly perform or display the work

Type of Work

Text-Based Works

Although printed materials often contain copyright notices with information regarding the copyright holder, these notices are not required. Assume that a work is copyrighted unless otherwise indicated.

For text-based works such as books and journal articles, you can use 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.

Website Resources

It is best to provide a link directly to website resources in order to avoid copyright issues. If you need to use material from a website for other purposes (e.g., in a compilation work or for copying and distributing), you will perform a Fair Use analysis.

Websites often contain information regarding use of materials directly on their pages. If a website does not contain information on permissible use, send an email using an appropriate mail link on the site and request permission to use the works, stating specifically the intended purpose/use. If the material is not online and no website 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.

Non-Text Media

Educational exemptions apply to specific uses of multimedia works, such as film and audio recordings. See Educational Use and the Interactive Guide to Using Copyrighted Media in Your Courses (Baruch College) for information regarding the use of multimedia works.

Denied or Unanswered Permission

If the copyright holder denies permission to use the work, do not to use the material. You are still entitled to make fair use of the material, but a court might construe the Fair Use Doctrine. Publishers or other copyright holders whose requested fee has not been paid, and who have 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 you do not receive a reply, or if the reply is returned as undeliverable, and you want to pursue the investigation further, you can contact the U.S. Copyright Office. They will search their records for a fee and, if possible, provide you the name and address of the most recent copyright holder.

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