Publishing permissions

If you plan to use copyrighted material in your published work, you will generally need to get permission from the author or creator.

For copyright purposes, “published” means making material available to others in some form. This could include publishing material on a website or social media as well as in books and journals.

Most material in written, audio or visual form (physical or digital), is copyrighted automatically upon its creation.

This includes content that is freely available on the internet. Material does not have to include the “©” copyright symbol or display the author’s name to be protected by copyright. When material is copyrighted, this means you will need to ask permission if you plan to copy, re-use, distribute, perform or translate the work. There are some exceptions to this depending on the type of use.

Not all material requires publishing permission, even if it is copyrighted. See our copyright exceptions page for more information.

If you are requesting material that has been published in a journal article (and sometimes in ebooks), you can request publishing permissions directly through the platform (e.g. RightsLink).

  1. On the journal article page, look for an option such as “reprints and permissions” or “rights and content”.

    an option saying get rights and content an option saying reprints and permission

  2. Specify the type of use (for example publication, use in a journal or a thesis).

    permission selection box

  3. Follow the other prompts. You may be charged a fee depending on the type of use.

Another option for permissions requests is to contact the author(s) directly. We recommend you get the permission for re-use in writing (can be in email form) and retain a copy for your records. It is always a good idea to identify the material you want to re-use and specify the type of use. When you re-use the material make sure you attribute the source of the content and comply with any conditions imposed by the copyright holder in the permission. Here is a permissions template you can re-use.

Permission can take time to obtain, so reach out to authors early in your project.

In some circumstances it may not be possible to obtain copyright permission, for example the copyright holder may be difficult to identify or you may have issues contacting them (or their descendants). You will need to assess the risk of the re-use before deciding whether or not to re-use the content without permission. Your risk analysis might consider:

  • Are you using a substantial copy?
  • Is the use non-commercial?
  • Does the use fit the criteria of “fair dealing” for criticism or review?

For more information, review the ACC fact sheet on Orphan Works.

You also have the option to redact information that you have not obtained copyright permission for, such as in a thesis. See the “Copyright and your thesis” section of the espace guide.

See the Forms and Templates page.