When reprinting in your book text or illustrations from previously published or copyrighted work, you are responsible for clearing permission from the original source. These guidelines should help you assess when it is necessary to obtain permission.
Works no longer protected by copyright are in the public domain. In the U.S., this generally includes text published prior to 1923. Due to changes in copyright law over time, you must check when a work was published or created in a tangible form to determine if it is protected by U.S. copyright. Foreign countries may have different criteria for determining public domain materials. Other items within the public domain include works produced by the U.S. government, and facts, data, statistics, ideas, and procedures.
Brief excerpts of original material presented for the purposes of scholarship, research, review, criticism, evidence, or evaluation are acceptable reasons for invoking the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. The doctrine outlines four factors for consideration: (1) the purpose and character of the use, (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used, and (4) the effect of the use upon the existing or potential market. If you invoke fair use, you must still transcribe accurately and give credit to your sources.
Your Previous Publications
If adapting a previous journal article for a chapter in your book, for example, you will most likely need to seek the permission of the journal or publisher in order to do so. However, if you have documented proof (in the form of a publishing agreement) that you retain the right to reprint and adapt this work, that will suffice.
Works for Hire
If you hire a cartographer, photographer, illustrator, translator, etc. to prepare materials for your book, then by the written agreement you become the owner of the copyright in those materials. You may use this material freely without permission from the creator.
Figures, Tables, Graphs, Charts
Unless you can invoke fair use in reprinting these materials, you will need to seek permission from the publisher or author.
Photos, Cartoons, Illustrations, Art
You will likely need to seek permission to reprint these items. Keep in mind that the person or institution who holds the physical image or artwork is not necessarily the copyright holder. However, they may be able to help you correctly determine the copyright holder, who you must seek permission from.
Poetry and Song Lyrics
The rule of thumb at the Press is that you can invoke fair use when quoting 1-3 lines or up to no more than 10% of any poem or song. If you quote more substantially than that, you will need to seek permission from the publisher or producer.
Excerpts from Fiction, Drama, and Letters
Unless the material is in the public domain, you should seek the permission of the publisher or archive when quoting substantial portions of these materials.
Quotations from Prose, Articles, or Speeches
The rule of thumb at the Press is up to 500 words from a single copyrighted source may be used without obtaining permission.
Interviews and Personal Correspondence
Agreeing to an interview with the author implies permission to quote from the interview, however, the interviewee must sign a consent form acknowledging that the material will be published if you are quoting more than a small portion (a few paragraphs) or if the material may be considered controversial. You should also obtain consent forms to publish any personal emails, letters, phone records, etc. with another person.
Works of Local and State Governments
These entities are free to decide whether to copyright their materials. If the material is protected by copyright you must seek permission to use it.
When obtaining permission from a source, you should ideally clear the following rights: non-exclusive world rights for both print and electronic editions of your book for all editions in the English language. If a source is willing to grant rights for all languages without an exponentially higher permissions fee, it is helpful to clear those rights as well, but not a requirement. Publishers may require that you complete a form on their website to seek permission. They may ask for the list price, print run, and publication date for your book; your editor can provide that information. Your editor can also supply you with a template permission letter, should a source be flexible in allowing a form other than their own.
It is best that you keep a log tracking each permission request status and submit it along with a copy of the granted permission documents to your editor when requested. Keep a copy for your records as well. Please clearly label each permission document with the corresponding item in your manuscript.
Fees and Gratis Copies
Grantors may request fees or gratis copies of the book in exchange for permission. It is the responsibility of the author to pay any permission fees. Be sure to alert your editor when gratis copies are requested for permission as he/she will dispatch gratis copies once the book is published.
A Non-Responsive Source
Make every reasonable effort to research and contact the copyright holder. Document your efforts – including copies of several letters requesting permission, receipts from any attempts to deliver them, records of your efforts to track down the copyright holder (ex. emails, web searches, etc.), and evidence that you gave the copyright holder enough time to respond (ex. letters spanning several months). You may use the material for which you haven’t received permission if you can demonstrate that you have made a good faith effort to contact the copyright holder and the copyright holder has not responded. A good faith effort will not protect you from copyright infringement should the rights holder one day resurface, but a documented good faith effort can help to mitigate damages. Consult your editor on whether it is worth the risk.
Download Permission Guidelines