Finding Content and Asking For Permission

Comic; Transcript: Mimi: Everything I do is free. Copy, share, re‐use, whatever. Mimi: So please don’t ask my permission. You already have it! Eunice: Can I quote you?

Permission” by Nina Paley is ♡ Copyheart marked and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Finding Content You Can Use Freely

Obtaining/Using Rights When You Need To:

Some Best Practices:

  • Make sure you are asking the right person–permission from somebody who doesn’t actually own the copyright will not protect you. For instance,
    • The copyright for printed works, or certain parts of the copyright, is often transferred from author to publisher.
    • The copyright for music can be held by multiple parties, including the composer(s), performer(s), and the record company.
    • Be mindful of how easy it is for information to proliferate on the Internet, regardless of whether the claimed copyright is valid; always go to the source whenever possible.
  • Be specific when requesting permissions (how it will be used, in what environment, how many people will see/hear/experience it, what language it will made available in, the duration of use requested, if there’s commercial gain potential, etc.)
  • Ask how the author would like attribution to be communicated
    • Always include attribution when using another’s work
  • Have records of all correspondence in writing and keep a record of the contract (whether granting or getting permissions)
  • You may be asked to pay a fee, which you can try to negotiate
  • Remember that the copyright holder is under no obligation to respond to your request.
    • Do not compose a letter asking for permission with an inherent assumption that you will use the content unless you hear back that you cannot.
    • Getting no response does not equate to permission.


Don’t miss the selection of Additional Resources to help round out your understanding of copyright law and its application.


Copyright Home   Basics   Exemptions   Creative Commons   Fair Use
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Disclaimer: The content of this page is presented for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for legal advice.