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Copyright Guide: How to Request Permission

Requesting Permission from a Copyright Owner

Identifying the Copyright Owner

It's important to remember that the copyright owner is not always the original author/creator. 

To identify the copyright owner of a work, check one or more of the following: 

In some cases, you may need to contact a licensing agency.  A list of collective licensing agencies can be found at the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University.

What to Include in a Request

When you request permission, you want to get written permission (i.e. email or letter).

In your request, you should include the following:

  • The specific rights you would like (i.e. to do what with the content)
  • The set amount of time you would like the rights for
  • Whether you want exclusive or non-exclusive rights (typically non-exclusive)
  • Identify the geographic area where you will use the work
  • Ask what conditions you need to meet for the use (be prepared that the owner might ask you to pay)

Sample Permission Letters

Remember:  Getting permission can take a while!  Although it doesn't always take this long, be aware that the process can take a few months.


This site is intended for informational purposes only.  Library staff members cannot give legal advice.  For legal advice, you should contact an intellectual property attorney.

Meet with a Librarian

Meet with a research librarian to discuss a copyright question.

Additional Resources

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