Permissions Resources

If your use of another person’s work is not covered under fair use or any other limitation or exception to copyright, you may need to request permission from the rights holder. A good starting place is the University of Michigan Library’s robust set of resources on Obtaining Copyright Permissions. For many textual works, including academic books and journal articles, the Copyright Clearance Center, a for-profit company, can facilitate obtaining licenses for academic uses, for a fee. For more specialized materials, like fine art, music, and literary estates, the following resources may be helpful:

  • University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center WATCH (Writers, Artists, and their Copyright Holders) Database – a database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields.
  • Artists Rights Society – US-based organization specializing in licensing works of art for editorial and commercial purposes.
  • ASCAP – Collective licensing body representing music composition rights holders (songwriters and music publishers). Sells public performance licenses, but also hosts a database of copyright holders that can be used to identify where to seek permissions for other kinds of uses. UVA has a site license from ASCAP that permits public performances of songs on campus and online in certain circumstances. That license can be reviewed here.
  • BMI – Similar to ASCAP, but with different members. A copy of UVA’s BMI site license is available here.
  • SESAC – The smallest of the three composition licensing bodies, based in Europe. UVA’s SESAC license is available here.
  • Harry Fox Agency – Another music licensing agency that manages rights for songwriters and music publishers.

Easier than obtaining permission may be to locate openly licensed or royalty-free media that can serve the same purpose.  In some cases (especially for scholarly or teaching uses), permission may not be required because fair use will apply. To learn more, check out Images, Film, Music, Media.