How to Seek Reprint Permission
In response to a recent article about quoting copyrighted works, a reader asked about how to secure reprint permission. Whenever you quote a significant enough portion of someone else’s work that it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of fair use, you must seek permission to use it.
This used to be a lengthy process involving identifying the copyright holder, finding contact information, writing a detailed letter outlining how you plan to use the quoted material, and then sitting back and waiting. And waiting and waiting. It was a frustrating process, all the more so when the request was denied.
The process is much easier today. More and more publishers are using the Copyright Clearance Center, an online service that eases and speeds the process for writers. By using CCC’s Purchase Permissions feature (under the Authors menu option), you can search for published material and find out exactly what kind of reprint rights are allowed, as well as how much they will cost.
The drawback to CCC’s service is that not all publishers are on board yet. If you need to secure reprint permission from a publisher that does not use CCC, you might try visiting the publisher’s Web site. Often you’ll find reprint permissions instructions there, and sometimes you can even submit your request through the Web site.
Otherwise, you’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way: by writing a letter. In your letter, you must include, at a minimum, the following details:
- Title and author of the publisher’s book
- Imprint or division of the publisher’s book
- ISBN (the International Standard Book Number, located on the copyright page)
- Title of your book or article
- Your publisher’s name
- Format (hardcover, softcover, etc.)
- Territory of distribution for your book or article (U.S., North America, world, etc.)
- Print run (total number of copies to be printed)
- Publication date of your book or article
- Retail price
- Your complete contact information
It’s important to remember that simply requesting reprint permission is no guarantee it will be granted. The copyright holder has the right to say no. However, you’ll greatly increase your chances of a positive response if you follow instructions carefully and be sure to submit all the required information.
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