How to Obtain Permission to Use Copyrighted Material

We already all heard the term “copyrighted” at least once in our lives, right? It’s when people make use of material that is not theirs. May it be a photo, a line in a song, an artwork, or any creative output there is out there, if it is protected by the law and it has been used in an unauthorized manner, then it is considered to be copyright.

What if you really want to make use of a photograph for a magazine or school paper? Or use a melody of a song for a remix that you will release publicly? You can get rights to use that material. Let us help you out! Check out the simple steps that we have compiled below. Read up!

What Is a Copyright Permission and Why Is It Needed?

Getting a copyright notice permission is basically the process of getting consent from the owner of the copyright in order to have the rights to using the owner’s copyrighted material/materials. Getting a copyright permission is more commonly known as licensing. This means that when you have a license, you have the permission to make use of the original owner’s work.

Oftentimes, permission is needed as there are intellectual property laws that protect creative works. If you use a copyrighted work protected by the said law, this means that you are infringing the rights of the owner’s copyrighted work. Infringing a copyrighted work can be subject to a lawsuit or legal action. The consequences following the legal action might be a notice to inform you that you have to stop using the material or it can also be a notice informing you that you have to pay a fine.

So why is notice of copyright important? This is because there are a ton of people who choose to operate illegally—intentional or otherwise. They make use of other people’s work without seeking consent from the material owner.

A lot of times, people who usually commit infringement tend to avoid getting a license to use the material since they might not have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the process of getting a permission to use the work. You can also see request letters when you want to write a letter to ask permission.

How to Get a Copyright Permission

In this part of the article, we will be outlining some of the basics about getting a copyright permission. In general, there are five steps involved in getting one.

Determine the Need for One

The very first thing that you should take note of is if there is a need for you to secure a permission for copyright. So the first thing you should ask is if there is a need to secure a license or an agreement to use the material or if it would be okay to use the material despite the absence of a copyright permission. So you have to determine the following:

  • The material is protected under the law. If the work you are going to use was published after 1922, it is automatically protected by the U.S. copyright law. A work published after 1922 is only considered as not under the U.S. law if: (1) the owner made a mistake such as not be able to renew the copyright or (2) the material does not meet the minimum standards to be protected by the law. A work that is not under any copyright protection and is in a public domain is automatically free for use by anyone.
  • Would using the material violate the law? If you do find that the material you want to use is under the protection of a copyright law, then using it for any purpose is considered unauthorized and illegal.
  • What are the risks involved without using a copyright permission? The goal of getting a copyright permit or securing a copyright release form is to lessen the risk of incurring any possible damages. Getting a lawsuit is one of the minor consequences whereas ending up in jail could be one of the worst nightmares you can have out there.

 

Identify Who Owns the Material

To obtain permission to make use of the material, you need to ensure that you identify who owns the material. Sometimes, the name of the owner is stated where the copyright notice is found. However, there are also times where in-depth research needs to be conducted in order to identify who owns the material, especially if the material was made by several people. You will find out through your research that the approach to looking for the owner or owners will vary from industry to industry. Patience is key to getting your goal.

Identify the Rights You Need to Secure

The next vital step that you need to do when it comes to securing a copyright permission is knowing what rights you need to secure. Identify if you want to secure any of the following:

  • right to reproduce the material,
  • distributing the material, or
  • modify the material.

 

You can easily identify the rights you will secure if you review your intended use of the material. For example, if you want to make use of a copyrighted photo to publish in your magazine or your paper, you will secure rights to reproducing and distributing the material and secure a photography copyright release form as well.

You want to ensure that you ask for the right amount of rights as to not get in trouble or not pay more than what you need. Permissions will typically deal with common variables namely the exclusivity, territory, as well as the term.

Plan Ahead

Securing a copyright permission may take around a month to three months to secure depending on the material. It is best that you ask for the permission right before you finish your work or else you will end up redoing your work, which can be more costly in the end.

Payments and Fees

Copyright permissions might come with fees and payments in order for you to secure the right to use the material. However, with the right amount of negotiating, you might find yourself paying lesser than the initial amount stated or not paying anything at all.

Key Takeaway

Securing a copyright permission might be very stressful and, let’s be honest, it might not be the most fun task to do. You have to go through the proper process and the proper channels in order to ensure that everything is in order and that you need not pay for any damages and you won’t have to end up in court trying to explain why you had to use the material. Just make sure that you ask the right people and you know the rights that you have to secure and you will be just fine.

You may also like