Securing permissions can take up to several months. Check in with your acquiring editor if you have any questions at all in the process of determining what needs permission and what specific rights need to be secured.

Obtain permissions to reprint copyrighted material (including your own previously published work) that falls outside the bounds of fair use. This includes but is not limited to graphs, drawings, maps, photographs, tables, music examples, portions of or entire chapters previously published, and some quoted prose, poetry, or song lyrics, including unpublished works. See What Requires Permission below.

Requesting Permission

Request world rights in all languages and editions, including electronic editions. Allow at least two months for a response to your permissions queries. Click on the links below for samples of permission request forms:

What to Provide the Press

Put credits in your manuscript according to the rightsholders’ requirements for wording and placement.

When you submit the final manuscript, send us copies of all required permissions along with an inventory of those permissions.

What Requires Permission

Public Domain
Is the quoted or reused material protected by copyright? See the Copyright Slider from the American Library Association.
Fair Use
Even if a work is protected by copyright, permission may not be required. Section 107 of the Copyright Law of 1976 indicates that the following factors must be taken into consideration when determining fair use:
  1. the purpose of the use, including whether such use is commercial or nonprofit/educational;
  2. the amount quoted in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
  3. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  4. the effect of the use upon the market for or value of the copyrighted work.
A critical study that quotes works for the purpose of analysis may be engaged in fair use; a book of readings may not be. A four-line quote from an eight-line poem may require permission, but a four-line quote from a hundred-line poem may not.

Because of how the four factors interact, we do not have specific word-count or other limits; use your best judgment or speak with your acquiring editor.

Your Own Previously Published Work
If some of your own writing in the manuscript was published previously, you may need permission from the original publisher if (1) you quote your previous publication extensively and (2) you did little or no revising. Check your contract with the original publisher to see what it says about reusing material.
Others’ Previously Published Work
If you are reprinting a large portion of a work that is not in the public domain, you may need one or more of the following items:
  • permission from the author;
  • permission from the original publisher;
  • a copy of the rights reversion from the original publisher to the autho
  • a copy of the author’s contract stating that the original publisher has only limited rights that do not exclude the use you intend (for example, the publisher might have first serial rights only).
Unpublished Material
In general a small, noncontroversial quotation from unpublished material may be acceptable without permission. A substantial or controversial quotation requires permission from the author, the author’s heirs, or whoever has been assigned copyright.
Ownership vs. Copyright
Barring clear and unambiguous assignment of copyright, all copyrights belong to the author/creator, whether or not the material in question has been published.

Ownership of a physical item (such as a letter, a painting, or a rare book) does not in and of itself confer ownership of the intellectual property (the contents of the letter, painting, or book). Permission to photocopy or use materials from libraries or archives in your research does not automatically grant permission to reprint the material. Forms granting access may read much like copyright permissions but are essentially payment for services. Check your paperwork carefully to see whether you need additional permission, from the repository or from the copyright holder, to reprint the material in your book.

If an item is old enough to be in the public domain but inaccessible to the general public, the repository can claim certain rights based on ownership and access.

In some cases two permissions may be needed, one from the author or artist and one from the owner of the physical item.

Lyrics and Music
Lyrics and music almost always require permission, no matter how much you are reprinting, because of their strictly enforced copyrights. ASCAP and BMI represent most songwriters, composers, and music publishers.
As a practical matter, short, inoffensive quotes from interviews may be used without permission. If interviewees are not identifiable (unnamed or given pseudonyms, with identifying characteristics changed or omitted) or if interviewees are deceased, you don’t need written permission. Otherwise, ask interviewees to sign a brief statement granting permission to publish quotes from the interview (see sample Interview Release Form).
If an illustration is under copyright, obtain permission from the artist or the artist’s estate. If an illustration is old enough to be in the public domain but inaccessible to the general public, the repository can claim certain rights based on ownership and access. See Ownership vs. Copyright, above.
Good-Faith Effort
If you have tried multiple times to obtain permission but have not gotten a response from the rightsholder, enclose copies of your letters requesting permission in order to establish evidence of a good-faith effort.

For additional information on copyrights and permissions, consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), and the section on copyright and permissions on the Association of American University Presses Web site.