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Open Textbooks/Open Educational Resources: Copyright Permissions

Copyright Permissions

Obtaining copyright permission is a key component of the open educational publication process. Using open or original materials is best, but there might some occasions which will require the use of copyrighted information. It is also important to understand when you will need to secure permission for these resources, as not every instance requires this permission and is subject to frequency of use and fair use guidelines. For additional information regarding these two issues, please consult these additional resources:

While there is no exact process to do this, there are a few best practices that you can follow.

You must first identify the correct copyright holder(s) and contact them for each item you plan to use. This can take a significant amount of time, and some publishers/authors may not grant your request at all.The copyright office provides a step-by-step guide: Here are some sample written request letters that you can use as models:


Another way to seek permissions and manage possible royalty payments is to work through a licensing agency such as the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), which represents a number of publishers. The advantage of such a service is that the process for requesting use from several different publishers is more efficient, but there are fees associated with this service.

If you are ever in doubt about a particular resource, checking with an attorney is the best way to resolve any uncertainties.