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How to get permission to use quotes and graphics

January 1, 2019 By Adrienne Montgomerie
Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

After you figure out that you need permission for a quote or graphic and determine who to ask (usually the publisher), it’s time to make the request. It can take months to track down a copyright holder and secure permission, so the “time to start” is close to completion of the first draft.

HOW TO ASK

A simple email often does the trick. Sometimes a contract-like form full of specifics is needed. Those are more common in commercial works. At the least, the author/artist will want to know what you’re using and why. Depending on the nature of the use or the nature of the copyright holder, they might ask for payment.

WHAT DETAIL TO GIVE

If more detail is requested, you’ll be looking at these sorts of details (in order of likelihood):

WHAT DETAIL TO GET

Get it in writing, first and foremost. An email will suffice. Make sure the permission is explicitly granted. Use a form or contract for added assurance. Keep these in the project archives, especially to help the team working on the next edition.


This article was originally posted on the Copyediting website, February 15, 2016.

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