Do you have questions on how to obtain copyright protection? Then this is the right article for you.

Table of contents

Step-by-Guide to Obtain Copyright Permission

How to tell if a Work is Copyrighted

Step-By-Step Guide to obtain copyright permission

This article is a guide on how to obtain copyright permission.

Before using copyrighted material within your business operations, these steps will help you avoid copyright violations.

They include:

  1. Find out if copyright permission is required.
  2. Identify the owner.
  3. Identify the rights required.
  4. Get your permission agreement in writing.

The first step is to determine whether copyright permission is required. To put it another way, do you need an agreement, or can you use the work without permission? Determining whether to ask for copyright permission depends on two questions:

  1. Is the material covered by the law?
  2. Would the use of material violate the law?

It isn’t always possible to answer these questions with a definitive “yes” or “no.” In other cases, you might have to evaluate the risks involved in operating without permission. 

Work that is not protected under intellectual property laws, is considered to be in the public domain. The work becomes the public domain when the period of protection ends or the creator fails to comply with legal requirements at the time of creation or the creator has decided to make the work available to the public. Therefore, this means the work can be used without permission. Some expressions, such as facts, laws, or works by the Government, are exempted from copyright protections. These expressions are free to reproduce, reuse, adapt, or distribute.

The unauthorized use of a creative work that is protected by intellectual property laws might still be legal. There are exceptions to every law protecting creative works. Therefore, these exceptions allow you to use the work in situations where authorization is not necessary. The doctrine of Fair use in copyright law, allows you to reproduce small parts of a work for specific purposes, such as commentary or scholarship. For instance, the fair use doctrine allows you to reproduce only a few lines from a song lyric for a music review without obtaining permission from the songwriter or whoever has the copyright in that song. 

The aim is to reduce the chances of being sued. The risk of being sued is not just dependent on the use but also on other factors like whether it will be noticed, whether you are a “worthy target” for litigation or whether the other side is likely to sue.

We recommend that you adopt a conservative approach. It is worthwhile to seek permission if there is no certainty that the material is in the public domain, or its use is legal. It is vital to make a risk assessment and seek the guidance of an attorney who is knowledgeable in media or copyright law.

2. Identify the owner

It is essential to identify the owner of the work in use to obtain permission. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes, it is easy to find the rights owner by simply looking at the copyright notice attached to the work. For example if the notice is “Copyright 2020 PatentPC,” then look for the PatentPC company

The method used to identify owners varies from one industry to the next. For instance, stock photo organizations often own photographic reproduction rights, while performing rights societies typically own most music performance rights. The sections that follow permission rules for specific types of creative work will provide information on how to find owners.

Next, identify the rights required to get permission. Every copyright owner has a set of rights that include the right to reproduce and distribute the work as well as the ability to modify it. Clearly state the rights required, as there are many rights associated with copyrighted work. It is as easy as stating the intended use. For example, you might want to reproduce a photograph from a magazine.

It can be difficult to ask for the proper rights. While you don’t wish to pay more than you actually need, you also don’t want the hassle of having to request permission for the second round. Sometimes, this means negotiating with rights owners to find a middle ground on fees. Identify the intended use and determine the details of how you intend to use the material. Your permissions agreement should address three common variables: exclusiveness, term, and territory.

4. Get it in writing

Relying on oral agreements or understandings is almost always a mistake. It is possible that you and the rights owner misunderstood or remember terms differently. These can lead to disputes. It will be difficult to prove the terms if you need to take your agreement to court. Do not rely on oral agreements. Get written permission agreements.

According to the general contract law principles, in a case of a contract, oral permission can be legally enforced.

How to tell if a Work is Copyrighted

It is well-known that the acquisition of copyright permissions for publishing is an ethical practice. Copyright protects original works. 

How can you tell if a work of authorship is copyrighted?

Steps to determine if a work is copyrighted.

While not every work that has copyright is registered, all registered copyrighted works have a copyright notice.

A Copyright Notice is a brief line of text that informs the public that your work is protected under copyright law and must not be copied. It is also useful for licensing requests as it provides information about the author. In most cases, the copyright notice appears at the beginning of a book or at the end of the article.

A good copyright notice should contain all three of the elements listed below.

  1. The symbol (c), (letter C in circle), is the word “Copyright”, or the abbreviation of “Copr.”
  2. The year of publication. The year of publication is sufficient if the work is a derivative or compilation that incorporates previously published material.
  3. The name of the copyright owner. An abbreviation that can be used to identify the name or an alternative, more commonly known designation.

Here’s an example: (c), 2022 PatentPC

The U.S. Copyright Office has a Copyright Card Catalog containing an index of copyright registrations and public records that relate to the ownership copyrighted works. This catalog allows users to locate original copyright registration records as well as other U.S. documents. 

These records usually contain information such as the name of author, title of work, a copyright registration number and effective date of registration. The Copyright Card Catalog also contains entries for ownership transfers of copyright. 

To find copyrighted work, you can search the online database using a title, creator’s name, and keyword.

Now over to you

In case of any issues that can be encountered when trying to obtain copyright permissions, our team of experts is happy to help you with your questions. Our team includes eminent researchers as well as publication experts.