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This guide provides a basic overview of copyright law, fair use, copyright for instructors, and other copyright related resources.

Requesting Permission To Use Copyrighted Material

If your use does not meet one of the legal exceptions below, then you must request permission from the copyright holder.

  • The work is in the public domain;
  • The permission is granted through a Creative Commons license; 
  • You have made a good faith determination that the use is fair use;
  • The use falls under some other exception in the Copyright Act, like those specifically intended for classrooms.

The first step to requesting permission is identifying the copyright holder. This can be tricky because authors often transfer their copyright to publishers, making it difficult to ascertain who owns the copyright. Below are several resources that will help you locate the copyright holder. In some instances, you may not be able to identify the copyright holder. If this occurs, you may have encountered an orphan work. Unfortunately, there is currently no legal solution to using orphan works other than finding a substitute resource or reanalyzing your use to make a fair use determination.

When seeking permission it is important to track your requests and maintain a record of any permissions that you receive. Below are several key points of information to include:

  • Your name, address, telephone number, and email address;
  • Your title/position and name of the university;
  • The date of your request;
  • Exact material to be used, giving the amount or portion(s) of the work to be used, with as much specificity as possible;
  • A precise description of the proposed use of the copyrighted material (when it will be used, how many people will have access, how long it will be available).

 For further suggestions on requesting permission please see the How to Obtain Permission guide from the US Copyright Office. 

Resources for Requesting Permissions

Your Librarian

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Khaleedah Thomas

Informational Purposes Only

The materials and information on this guide are intended for informational purposes only. CSU Libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Please consult the University's Office of the General Counsel or your own attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.


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