Permission guidance notes
When using any copyright-protected content that does not belong to you or the University of Reading and the use of which is not covered by a relevant licence or applicable copyright exception, permission needs to be sought from the rights holder (owner of the copyright) before it can be used in your own work, project or presentation. If you do not seek and obtain permission from the rights holder, you must not use this material as you will be infringing their copyright once your project is published (including when it is uploaded to the Web).
In most cases where content is of relatively low risk, an email or letter directed to the rights holder requesting permission to use their work within your own work initiates the process. The letter/email must:
- outline the purpose of your intended use
- give information about how your work will be used (i.e. available for download by the public/for educational use/for commercial use/for advertising, etc)
- include your contact details (name, telephone number/email address)
- include the date.
You must also include sufficiently informative detail about your use of their work so that they know exactly what you intend to use; if it is a part of their work, specify the length and the context. The Permissions request template provides an example of good practice to help you when contacting third parties for permission to use their material. This template can be copied, used and adapted to reflect your specific requirements.
High risk content, such as commercially produced films, music, music videos, photographs (particularly of paintings and famous people), newspaper articles and software will likely require a formal licence to be granted before you can use them.
Permission confirmed and granted
Permission to use third party content is granted when the rights holder acknowledges your request and expressly permits you to use the material for the reasons you have stated. A signature from them is preferable but generally consent by email is accepted. Once you have permission, store it securely for as long as the work is available.
Necessary permission not confirmed or granted
If you do not hear back from the rights holder, you must not use the work. Follow your initial enquiry with a polite written reminder or a telephone call. If you still do not hear back from them, contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer for advice.
In some cases the copyright holder will be unknown or untraceable, in which case the work may be orphaned. Contact the Copyright & Compliance Officer who will be able to assist you.