Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Copyright and Fair Use: Obtaining Permission

What is Public Domain?

How do I Obtain Permission?

If the work you would like to use is not in the public domain, does not fall under fair use, and does not have a Creative Commons license or a similar permission, you can always ask permission from the copyright holder.

Look in the Front Matter for Permissions

Sometimes, a creator preemptively expressed limited permission for educators to reproduce their work. For example, the creator of a published compilation book of writing worksheets may already give permission to educators to photocopy their work. Look in the front matter of a book (where the bibliographic information is) to see if there is already written permission.

Creative Commons

Another way producers of work can preemptively provide limited permissions is to include a Creative Commons license on their work. Go to the Creative Commons page in our research guide to find out more about this.

Some Publishers have Standard Permission Request Forms

To make things easier, many textbook publishers have standard permission request forms that you can submit online:‚Äč


Is the publisher you are looking for not on this list? Go to their website, and look for a link to 'Permissions'. It should be at the bottom of the page or in the sitemap.

Example Permission Letter

Below is an example of a permission letter to send to copyright holder. If you are sending this letter through the mail, print out the permission request form on a separate piece of paper and include a self addressed stamped envelope. If you are sending this via email, include the permission request in a word document or fillable PDF.



[Your name and address/Letterhead]


[Name and address of copyright owner or publisher]

Dear [___________],

I would like to request permission to show the DVD [citation: including such things as title, copyright date, distributor, publisher] to 70 students over three biology courses at Wellesley High School on May 1st, 2015. This will be a one-time showing. The purpose of this showing is to show the life cycle of African Macaw. If you are willing to grant this permission, would you please sign this letter below and return it to me by April 26th, 2015 or as soon as possible? Also, if I should be contacting someone other than you for this request, could you provide me with the name and address of the party to contact? I have included a self addressed stamped envelope for your use. Thank you for considering my request.



Leah Maroni-Wagner

Library Teacher

Wellesley High School

50 Rice Street

Wellesley, MA 02481

(781) 446-6290









SIGNATURE: _______________________


Adapted from: Butler, Rebecca. Copyright for Teachers & Librarians in the 21st Century. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2011.