Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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Getting Permission

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When you want to make use of material to which someone else owns the copyright, it is necessary to either take advantage of one of the many exceptions available in the copyright law – fair use, the TEACH Act, the classroom teaching exemption, exemptions for disabled users, etc – or to seek permission from the copyright owner.  The PCC Copyright Committee is happy to help you figure out if your use qualifies for one of the exceptions or if you need to ask for permission, just drop us a line!

If you determine that you must ask for permission, you might be signing up for quite a wild ride!  You will need to contact the copyright owner.  Sometimes the owner is the original author of the work but, more commonly, those rights have been transferred to a publisher.  The copyright owner may ask for a fee or for specific restrictions on your use.  Remember that you can always try to negotiate!

The Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University has a wonderful website about seeking permissions, including some great model letters you can use.  The site includes information about determining who owns a copyright, how to ask for permission, and what to do if you can’t find the owner.

If you ask for permission and are denied, or if the copyright owner asks for an unreasonable fee, remember that this does not have any bearing on whether your use is a fair use or not.  In other words, it won’t hurt your “case” for fair use if the copyright owner refuses permission so there is certainly no harm in asking, even if you think you probably have a fair use.

Questions?  Comments?  Need help?  Don’t hesitate to contact the PCC Copyright Committee.  We’ll be happy to help!

Start the discussion

PCC offers this limited open forum as an extension of the respectful, well-reasoned discourse we expect in our classroom discussions. As such, we welcome all viewpoints, but monitor comments to be sure they stick to the topic and contribute to the conversation. We will remove them if they contain or link to abusive material, personal attacks, profanity, off-topic items, or spam. This is the same behavior we require in our hallways and classrooms. Our online spaces are no different.

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