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Seeking permission

How to locate copyright owners and request permission

If an exception does not apply, permission must be obtained from the copyright owner to use copyright material in any of the ways within the copyright owner’s exclusive control.

Locating copyright owners

Initial contact points for locating copyright owners for some of the most frequently requested types of copyright material are set out below:

  • Published books and journal articles
    Initial contact person
    Book or journal publisher
    Check the publisher’s website for information about requesting permission. If the publisher cannot give permission and cannot direct you to the copyright owner, the Copyright Agency may be able to assist.
  • Unpublished works
    Initial contact person
  • Artworks
    Initial contact person
    If the artistic work is held in a gallery, the gallery may be able to grant permission or help you locate the creator.
  • Photographs
    Initial contact person
    In certain circumstances, the photographer will not be able to grant the permission (see the Who owns copyright? section). If the photograph is held in a gallery, the gallery may be able to grant permission or help you locate the photographer.
  • Musical works and lyrics
    Initial contact person
    If APRA AMCOS is not able to grant permission, they may be able to provide contact details for the music publisher or copyright owner. Check the music publisher’s website for information about requesting permission.
  • Sound recordings
    Initial contact person
    PPCA licences sound recordings for communication, public performance or broadcast
    ARIA licences the reproduction of sound recordings in certain circumstances
    If these collecting societies are not able to grant the permission, they may be able to help you locate the record company or copyright owner.
  • Films, DVDs, videos and TV programs
    Initial contact person
    Production company
  • Websites
    Initial contact person
    Website administrator
    Check the website terms of use to see if there is any information about requesting permission.
  • Government publications
    Initial contact person
    Contact the relevant government department or agency

For more detailed information on seeking permission, please refer to the Australian Copyright Council’s Permission: How To Get It information sheet.

Requesting permission

When seeking permission from a copyright owner you should:

  • put your request in writing
  • check to see if the organisation has a website with an online permission form
  • clearly identify the copyright material you want to use (eg title and edition; name of author, editor and publisher; imprint name; year of publication; page numbers; chapters; ISSN/ISBN). If possible, provide a link to where this information can be found on the internet (eg from the publisher’s website or a library catalogue entry)
  • state the exact purpose for which you will use the copyright material (including duration of use and how it will be distributed)
  • describe the new copyright material you are creating and how it will be distributed
  • indicate if you would like to alter their copyright material in any way
  • state whether you will benefit commercially from using their copyright material (eg by selling the new copyright material for profit or cost recovery; or allowing for profit organisations to commercially exploit the new copyright material)
  • indicate the size of the intended audience
  • state the other copyrights you have identified in the copyright material you want to use, who you have identified as their copyright owner and whether you have obtained their permission
  • be aware that the copyright owner has the right to say “no” and you must comply with this, because the copyright material is their property
  • be aware that the copyright owner may charge you a fee and impose other conditions or restrictions on how you can use their copyright material
  • be aware that the copyright owner may issue you with a licence agreement that they require you to sign
  • be aware that it may take months for the permission to be granted, so allow plenty of time

Records should kept of how you went about locating the copyright owner and all correspondence with the copyright owner (including all documentation relating to the permission request).

This information is provided as general information only. It provides a basic introduction to copyright and is not intended to be comprehensive.

Reviewed December 2017

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