Obtaining Permission

Permissions Tips

So, you have determined that the work you want to use is probably not in the public domain, and that it is not available under a license. You don't think your use is covered by any of the exceptions or limitations, including fair use. You may still be able to use the work, if you seek permission!

The Library provides assistance in acquiring permissions for materials to be copied for library reserves, course materials, and other University-related purposes. You may want to review the information on E-Reserves or send an email to copyright@princeton.edu.

Note that many creators do not themselves own their copyrights - the copyright in most books is owned by the publisher; the copyright in most music is owned by a distributor. However, it can still be a good idea to contact the creator - they may be able to give permission, and can usually put you in touch with other rights holders. Many images may have three or more rights holders: (1) the owner of the copyright (usually the creator or publisher); (2) the photographer of three-dimensional artworks/objects; and (3) the owner of the physical artwork, if a high-quality image is needed. There are some collective licensing agencies that may be able to help you secure permission. If you get no response after several requests, the work may be an orphan.

(Based on materials graciously made available by the University of Minnesota Libraries)


Trying to figure out who holds the rights? Look for a copyright statement like "© Juanita Rogers, 1999"

Remember: formal permissions must be in written form for full legal protection!

Want to contact the creator? Look for them online and try emailing, using Facebook or Twitter!

Corporate owner? Look for contact info for a Permissions department.

Remember: correct citation doesn't substitute for permission when permission is needed!

Still need help after exploring this site? Contact copyright@princeton.edu