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Music: Copyright and Plagiarism: Securing Copyright Permissions

What information do I need to secure permission?

Information to include in a permission request:

  • Title of the material you want to use
  • Creator/author
  • Publisher
  • Description of the work you intend to use
  • ISBN or ISSN, if applicable
  • Purpose for use (i.e. research, commercial, educational, etc.)
  • How you are going to reproduce the material (i.e. copies, recordings, digital distribution)
  • Where and for how long the material will be used

Sample Letter

A sample letter for use when contacting a copyright holder to attain permission for use of their copyrighted work. From the Columbia University Library.

Getting Permission to Use a Copyrighted Work

1. Determine whether you need permission. Are there rights restrictions on this work, or is there a Creative Commons license (or something similar) that specifies allowable usage.

2. Who owns the copyright? The author of the work may not own the copyright, especially if they work for a publishing company. Dissertations also need special consideration. Parts of the dissertation may have been published in journals, in which case you would need permission from the journal to reproduce the work.

3. Permissions services such as Tresoná or the Copyright Clearance Center can help you with this process. In some cases, you can fill out the form online and receive an immediate answer! Once you provide the necessary information, these services will complete the rest of the approval process.  

4. If you choose not to use a permissions service, proceed to the author or publisher's website (depending on who owns the copyright) for permissions information.

Be prepared to pay a fee for using copyrighted material, and allow plenty of time to get the permission from the copyright holder. If you write directly to the copyright holder, it may take several weeks to complete the process. Do not use material until you receive permission, and be sure to keep any documentation of requests and payments.

-Duquesne University, Gumberg Library



Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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