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Stony Brook University

Copyright Guide

Copyright permissions

If you wish to use copyrighted material [for your research, in class, for a presentation or publication], you may need to request permission from the copyright holder. This can be a lengthy process and should not be done at the last minute. Permission is not needed if you are using material in the public domain or if the use is covered by fair use.

Publishers often provide information on obtaining permissions on their websites. You might also find contact information for seeking permission to use copyrighted content.

If the content you want to use is a film, you can contact the production company and producers. The rights to older films may have changed hands and may be difficult to track down.

You can also use a commercial services like the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) which is a fee-based service that attempts to obtain copyright permissions for you. 

If the copyright holder does not have a form to use to request permission, write a letter in which you explain who you are, what you are requesting and why. Include how the copyrighted material will be used and for how long. Keep copies of all correspondence.

You may not have to ask for permission if:


Attribution vs Permission

This short video from the Copyright Clearance Center explains why attribution is often not enough to prevent copyright infringement.