Copyright Basics

Copyright Overview
Fair Use
© Infringement Penalties
US Legal System

For Instructors

Face-to-Face Instruction
Virtual Instruction

For Researchers

Use of © Works
Author Rights
Thesis/ Dissertation

Copyright Resources

Campus Resources
Other Resources
UCO Publications
Reporting Alleged © Infringement


An Overview

Permissions to use copyrighted material must be obtained when the use is not covered by the copyright law and its exceptions.  Permissions should be in writing and from the copyright holder.  Maintain copies of all of the correspondence. 











The Basics

All requests for permissions must be sent to the copyright holder of record or their agent. Requests should include the following information:

  1. Your name, address, telephone number, and fax number.
  2. Your title/position and name of university.
  3. The date of your request.
  4. A complete and accurate citation.
  5. A precise description of the proposed use of the copyrighted material as well as when and for how long the material will be used.
  6. A signature line for the copyright holder including their title if they are representing a company and the date.


Sample Permission Letter

Sample Permission Letter






Copyright Management Organizations

There are many organizations that manage the permissions for authors. 
The following are some of the organizations categorized by material type.

Printed Material:

Copyright Clearance Center

A company that represents many authors and publishers, and can provide non-exclusive licenses and/or permissions.



The above organizations provide licenses to perform musical works in public.


Harry Fox Agency, Inc.

The above agency licenses the music for others to record and distribute.


Motion Pictures:









Orphan Works

Orphan works are works where the copyright holder cannot be identified and/or located.  With the duration of copyright increasing, more works are becoming part of this category.  It is sometimes difficult to locate the copyright holder to request their permission to use the work.  Use due diligence in trying to identify and locate the owner of the copyrighted work and maintain records of all correspondence.  However, if you are unsuccessful in your quest, then consider the following options:

1.  Re-evaluate the fair use exception 

The fourth factor, market effect, might be weighing more in favor of fair use under the new circumstance.  Apply the factors again to your use.

2.  Revise your use of the copyrighted work 

Think creatively about how you might chose to use the intended work.  For example, consider reducing the amount or the scope of the distribution.

3.  Substitute comparable works 

Investigate the use of other works that could provide the same or similar outcome.

4.  Assess the risk

Decide how much risk you are comfortable in assuming should the copyright holder come forward and seek payment for your use of their work.





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The mission of the University Copyright Office is to educate the Purdue University community on copyright..
The information contained on the UCO site should not be considered legal advice.
Individuals should consult their own attorneys.

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