What should I do if my use is not covered by an exception and the material is not in the public domain?

If your use of a copyrighted work is not covered by an exception, or does not fall within the public domain, you may still contact the copyright holder and seek permission to use the work.  You may also consider whether your use would be protected under fair use.

How do I get permission to use a work?

The first step in seeking permission to use a work is identifying the owner of the copyright. The owner of the copyright may be the author, or the owner may be the author’s employer or any other individual to whom the author has transferred ownership. Once you have identified the owner you may then begin the process of requesting permission. Visit the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University to see procedural steps for securing permission and to view sample permission forms. Additional sample forms are provided below. If you need more information or assistance, contact Copyright Services.

Template permissions, licensing, and release forms:

DISCLAIMER: Templates are provided as examples to help you draft permissions requests and to encourage you to think critically about the rights you may need for current and future uses. The templates do not constitute legal advice and make no determination, declaration, claim or warranty of rights obtained for any particular scenario.

  • Use the Release form to obtain permission to create and use photographs and/or audio and video recordings of another person. For example, if you would like to take photos of a group completing a community service project and then put them on your blog, you would have each member of the group sign a copy of this release form. [PDF] [DOC] 
  • Use the License form to obtain permission to use the work(s) of another person. For example, if a conference attendee wrote a narrative describing her experience at the conference and you would like to put it online, you could obtain permission to do that by having the attendee sign a copy of this license form. [PDF] [DOC] 
  • Use the Release and license form to obtain both a release and a license instead of using two separate forms. For example, if you would like to record a presentation and also provide the presentation materials/slides in addition to the recorded video on your department website, the “Release & License” form would allow you to obtain the permission to do both. While signature on the full Release and license form is required, an accompanying highlights document is provided to highlight key points of the Release and license form in simple terms. [PDF] [DOC]
  • Use the Permissions request letter to obtain permission to use someone else’s work within your own project. For example, if you are writing a textbook and would like to use a figure found in another work that is not your own, you would identify the copyright owner and use this letter to request permission to include the work in your textbook. [PDF] [DOC]

Please contact us with any questions about these forms. 

DISCLAIMER: The information on these web pages and that received from Copyright Services at The Ohio State University Libraries and the Health Sciences Copyright Coordinator is not legal advice, nor is either office legal counsel to the university or any members of the university community.