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Copyright at The College of St. Scholastica

Learn about copyright

Clearing Copyright

There are a number of steps that CSS recommends that faculty undertake when clearing copyright and seeking permission to use copyrighted works.  It is advised that faculty follow these steps to clear copyright and get permission:

Copyright consideration should begin as soon as you begin building your course.  There are a number of pedagogy questions you should consider as you are designing your course. These questions include the following:

  • Why do I need this item?
  • Will something else work?
  • How will it help my students?
  • How will it enhance my curriculum?
  • Does the copyrighted work help me make my point?
  • How much of the copyrighted work do I need to use to make my point?
  • Will it help my students get my point?

Locating the Copyright Holder

In the event that you need to request permission to use a copyrighted work, you will first need to track down the copyright holder. 

Tips for locating the copyright holder

Books, Articles, & Other Print Items

  • Author(s) - The author may be the copyright holder. If the source has multiple authors, you may need to request permission from each one. Check for the copyright statement or information about the author(s). Sometimes the contact information for the author(s).
  • Publisher - many authors transfer their copyrights when items are published. Some authors do this unknowingly. Check the publisher website. Most publishers will have a permission website where they will provide instructions on how to request permission. Most often, this will be electronically through an online form. 


Permission Letters

In the event that you need to request permission to use a copyrighted work, you must request permission from the copyright holder.  This permission should be requested in writing and should include key pieces of information to make the process easier for you and the copyright holder.  Your copyright letter should include the following pieces of information:

  • Your name, address, telephone number, and fax number.
  • Your title and the name of the college.
  • The date of your request.
  • A complete and accurate citation.
  • A precise description of the proposed use of the copyrighted work as well as when it will be used, how it will be used, how long it will be used, the approximate number of sections or courses it will be used in, and the approximate amount of students in each course or section.
  • A signature line for the copyright holder including their title if they are representing a company and the date.

Although email is okay for permission, your letter will provide more legal protection if you have a written signature from the copyright holder.

If you send a letter, it is suggested that you send two copies – one to send back to you with the signature of the copyright holder and one for the copyright holder’s records.  Also, you might want to include a return envelope fully addressed and stamped.

Keep the letter in your files for a minimum of 3-5 years.  The statute of limitations for civil proceedings for copyright is three years.  For criminal proceedings, it is 5 years.  (Section 507, US Copyright Law)

Copyright Management Organizations

Additional Resources