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Copyright at the University of Northern Iowa

Obtain Copyright Permission

How to Obtain Copyright Permission

General Guidelines:

When you wish to use a copyrighted work and such use cannot reasonably be justified as “fair use,” you should seek permission for this use from the copyright owner. Note that UNI does not provide a service to process such requests. Seeking and obtaining copyright permission is your responsibility.

There is no universally applicable set of steps to seek and obtain copyright permission, but following are some guidelines: 

  • If you know who owns the copyright of the material and you can find a contact address, you may write directly to that person requesting permission. 
  • If you do not know who owns the copyright, but do know the publisher of the material, contact the publisher for copyright permission. To determine the publisher, consult the copyright page and/or the acknowledgement page of the work. 
  • In some exceptional cases, you may be unable to identify the copyright owner, or you may not be able to contact the copyright owner. If either of these situations occurs, please consult the UNI Copyright Committee at for guidance.

Guides for Locating Copyright Holders

Sample Letters

Sample University Permission Letters:

These sample letters should be reviewed and modified to fit the specifics of your request. Your letter should provide complete and accurate information and include a self-addressed stamped envelope to expedite the permission process. The American Association of Publishers suggests the following information be included:

  • Title, author and/or editor, and edition of materials to be duplicated.
  • Exact material to be used, giving amount, page numbers, chapters and, if possible, a photocopy of the material.
  • Number of copies to be made.
  • Use to be made of duplicated materials (and duration of use).
  • Form of distribution (classroom, newsletter, etc).
  • Whether or not the material is to be sold.
  • Type of reprint (photocopy, photography, offset, typeset).

Sample permission letter: University of Northern Iowa

Sample letters and release forms: Duke University Scholarly Communication Toolkit.  Includes forms for webcasting, recording, archiving etc.

Helpful Copyright Permission Sites


  • Asking for Permission. Vassar College Guide to Copyright. List of sources for identifying and locating copyright holders, including collective rights organizations.
  • Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). Grants permission for use of many text-based works.
  • Locating Copyright Owners. Law Offices of Lloyd J. Jassin. List of organizations and web sites that assist the researcher to identify and locate copyright holders.
  • WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders). The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin and the University of Reading offers a database that provides information about whom to contact for permission to publish copyprotected text and images.