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Copyright and Your Dissertation

Requesting Permission

Due to the complexities of copyright, it is extremely difficult to create one resource or policy that addresses all situations. Generally you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the format, my intended use of the format, and the amount that I wish to use?
  2. Will the amounts permitted in Section 107 (fair use) meet my needs? (See the Fair Use tab)
  3. If not, will the limits outlined in Section 110 meet my needs? (allows for classroom showing of legally acquired multimedia)
  4. If the previous amounts are too restrictive, should I contact the publisher directly and request permission to use the material?
Once you have identified the materials you want to use and determined that copyright permission is required, you must identify the copyright holder and secure permission to use their work.
The permissions process involves a simple five-step procedure:
  1. Determine if permission is needed
  2. Identify the owner
  3. Identify the rights needed
  4. Contact the owner and negotiate whether payment is required
  5. Get your permission agreement in writing

Model Permission Letters

---  Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries

A most effective letter will include detailed information concerning your request for permission to use the work. Be sure to include the following pertinent information: 

Who - What - How - When - Where and How - Why

NOTE: If the work is online and you are unable to find an author or contact information for the website owner, use WHOIS to search domain registrars for the website's registrant name and contact information.