Did you know...
An orphan work is a work for which the copyright owner cannot be identified or located.
Legislation to address the problem of orphan works was proposed in the 109th and 110th Congressional sessions. However, the legislation did not pass.
In order to obtain permission, you must first identify the copryight owner.
A great place to start is with a copyright licensing organization. Such organizations manage the permissions for copyright owners, and may be able to license the content for your use without you having to contact the copyright owner directly.
Alternatively, you can contact the copyright owner directly. The logical place to start would seem to be the author, however many authors transfer their copyrights to publishers. Consequently, if you're seeking permission for the use of a book and journal article, start with the publisher. If the publisher does not own the copyright, they can likely put you in touch with the author or other copyright owner. For music or film, start with the production company. For help in locating copyright owners, please see our list of resources.
Once you identify the copyright owner, contact the owner and include:
- the exact material to be used;
- the number of copies to be made (such as the print run, or number of students in the class);
- the intended use of the material (such as for a public performance);
- form of distribution (such as publication in a journal article, or Course Reserves)
- whether or not the material is to be sold
Always remember to retain a written response. If you receive verbal permission over the phone, follow-up with the copyright owner in email.
What to do if permission is denied:
- Consider using an alternative work. Is there something else that you can use to illustrate your point or that will work as well as the original material?
- Alter your planned use and re-evaluate it for fair use. You might be able to change your use, such as use less of the work or limit the distribution.
- Copyright Clearance Center (CCC): licenses book and journal content
- iCopyright.com: licenses online content
- Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
- The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP)
- National Music Publishers Association (NMPA)
- Artists Rights Society (ARS)
- The WATCH File, UT at Austin - a database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in creative fields
- Publishers Marketplace - searchable database of agents, editors, publishers, packagers, and writers
- Photographer's Index - an Internet directory for photographers (photographers, stock photography houses, professional associations)
- Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO) - a compilation of digital multimedia documentation of works of art contributed by AMICO museum members
- Internet Movie Database (IMDB)