Securing Copyright Permissions

There are two ways to obtain permission to use copyrighted materials. You may either contact the copyright holder directly, or you may use a rights clearinghouse.

Whether you are contacting a rights holder directly, or using a clearinghouse, you will need to have the following information:

  • Exact description/citation of the work to be used/copied

  • Exact description of what rights you are requesting (how you plan to use the work); you must request (and pay, if applicable) for each type of right you request.

For example, if you are granted the right to use an image in a PowerPoint presentation, it doesn’t mean you have the right to use that image in a paper you are writing, unless you have also been granted that right.


If you choose to contact the rightsholder directly, please:

  • Use this sample letter (.doc) to guide your request.

  • Get permission in writing – a telephone call or voicemail is not sufficient. E-mail is OK, but a physical signature is best.

  • Give yourself plenty of time (1-3 months)!


If you choose to use a copyright clearinghouse, be aware that different clearinghouses deal with different types of works:

For text/print materials (books, journal articles, etc), visit:

Copyright Clearance Center

For online text materials, visit:


For musical recordings, visit:

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers or BMI

For art images, visit:

Artists Rights Society


Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office also provides an extensive list of clearinghouses/licensing agencies.

The organizations listed here and on Columbia's site do not represent every author/creator or type of work – if you are having trouble locating rights for a specific work, please contact Pacific's Copyright Help Desk.