Clearing Copyright

You will need to clear copyright to include material in your book that is not your own.

We have created two letter templates to help you request permission: one for text, one for artwork.

You should complete the relevant letter and send it to the copyright holders of the material you want to use.

Copy and paste the letters onto your headed paper. Alternatively, clearly display your postal address, email address and telephone and fax numbers.

The [square brackets] indicate information that you need to supply.

Do you need to clear copyright?

Fair Dealing

It is generally agreed that no fee will be set for copyrighted text reproduced for the purposes of criticism, review, non-commercial research or the reporting of current events. 

This is called Fair Dealing, or Fair Use in the USA.

Fair Dealing guidelines are not legally binding but are based on a ‘fair trade’ agreement.

An appropriate acknowledgement must accompany materials reproduced under fair dealing. You do not need to request formal permission from the copyright holder.

As a general rule: if in doubt, contact the copyright holder.

Film Stills

There is no legal precedent for the use of film stills in academic publications.

The Society for Cinema Studies advises that frame enlargements (or screen grabs) published in a scholarly book will most likely fall into the category of fair dealing. These recommendations are not legally binding, but seem sensible.

Always clear permission for:

  • Substantial sections of text for the purpose of criticism, review or reporting current events (n.b. there is no legal definition of what counts as ‘substantial’)  
  • Any extract of text that is not for the purpose of criticism, review or reporting current events (e.g. a short epigraph)
  • An extract that forms the main argument of the work being quoted
  • Extracts from unpublished work
  • Extracts from a newspaper, journal or magazine
  • Pictures, figures, maps and tables
  • Trademarks: brand images, advertisements and logos
  • Extracts from poetry or song lyrics

Fair Dealing Checklist

  • Are you truly reviewing or critiquing (i.e. engaging with) the extract, not just quoting it?
  • Is the reproduction of this material genuinely necessary to make your point?

Yes to both of the above ► this may fall under fair dealing

  • Are you reproducing a significant proportion of the original text?
  • Are you reproducing a particularly important element of the original text?
  • Would including this material mean that people might buy your book instead of the original?

Yes to any of the above ► you need to clear copyright

How to clear copyright

Use our letter templates to get you started. Send the letters to the copyright holder. You should allow at least three months for copyright permissions to be cleared.

Follow our checklist below to make sure you have everything you need.

Clearing copyright – your checklist

  1. Check your author/editor contract regarding permission fees and who pays them.
    1. Monitor your budget and make a note of when payment is due for each extract: on receipt of permission or on the book's publication.
    2. Be prepared to drop and/or replace material if fees are prohibitively high.
    3. If you and your commissioning editor have agreed a budget for permissions that Edinburgh University Press will cover, keep a tally of the total figure as you receive letters of agreement and/or invoices.
      1. Permissions fees exceeding the budget may be charged directly to you.
      2. If you look like you are going to exceed your budget, contact your editor to discuss your options as soon as possible
    4. If the final permissions bill looks too high, there are several options that you can follow:
      1. Remove the material entirely.
      2. Shorten the material and negotiate a lower fee.
      3. Replace the material with a cheaper alternative.
      4. Renegotiate permissions for a lower fee.
  2. Ask for 'non-exclusive world English language print and electronic rights for one edition only, including all reprints'.
  3. Make a list of everything you need to clear copyright for – this list will form the basis of your acknowledgements page.
  4. Hand over your acknowledgements page with your finished manuscript. Make sure that you have included everything that needs to be acknowledged.
  5. The permissions agreement will often contain wording/a credit line that the copyright holder requires you to use in your formal acknowledgements. Be sure to reproduce this exactly.
  6. Keep copies of all your correspondence. These should be handed to the commissioning editor on delivery of your final typescript.
    1. We can give you a spreadsheet to help you track permissions contacts, replies etc. – just ask your commissioning editor or assistant commissioning editor.
    2. Allow publishers at least four weeks to reply – permissions departments are notoriously slow. If you do not hear back within four weeks, contact the publishers again.
  7. It is necessary that every effort shall have been made to seek formal permissions clearance from the copyright holder.
    1. It is widely and informally accepted that ‘every effort’ has been made if you have sent at least three letters and/or emails seeking permission, on three separate occasions, to the appropriate address.
    2. If you have made every effort to clear permission, and have had no reply, you must still include a full copyright credit line in your acknowledgements page to show that you have made every effort to credit the copyright owner of the material.
  8. Some copyright holders may ask you to contact individual authors of extracts/readings/articles (often a requirement of US publishers).
  9. You may need to approach the author to intervene on your behalf with her/his publisher to supply formal permission (if you have not received a response) or if a prohibitively high fee has been set by the copyright holder.
  10. The copyright holder may require a voucher copy (or several) of the book on publication. Keep a list of these requests and submit it with your manuscript.

Any questions?

Contact your assistant commissioning editor if you have any questions about clearing copyright permissions.

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