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Copyright: Permission

Learn what copyright is, why it is important, and how to use information legally.

The Process

If you want to use copyright protected work outside of fair use, you need to have permission to use it. You can request permission to use copyrighted material. To ask for permission, contact the copyright owner or a licensing agency. The owner may set fees or other conditions for use of the copyrighted material.

Find out who owns the copyright...

  • Look for the owner's name with the copyright notice on the work
  • Search the Copyright Clearence Center ( for works in print
  • Contact appropriate licensing agencies for various types of copyrighted material (from Columbia University Library)

Request Permission...

Consider your options if the price is too high...

  • Negotiate (always get permission in writing)
  • Use only what you can under fair use
  • Look for alternate resources


In the case of copyright, it is better to ask permission now than to ask forgiveness later. 

Copyright Symbol

The copyright symbol indicates copyright, but it is not required for protected works.

Image Source: In the public domain