If you’re new to writing books, copyright can be a confusing topic, and many new authors are completely unaware of the importance of obtaining permissions when they’re writing a book.
New to permission requests?
Here’s a good definition from Henry Holt:
Definition: A permission request is a request to obtain consent to reproduce an excerpt from copyrighted material from the party or entity representing the creator of the copyrighted material. Permission requests usually refer to excerpts reproduced in books, audio products or classroom coursepackets.
Here are a few cases in which you need to get permissions:
* You’re quoting substantially from another work – and even if you’re quoting minimally in some cases;
* You’re using images;
* You’re using song lyrics;
* You’re using quotes from poems;
* You’re taking screen clips from a software program.
Getting permissions is always the author’s responsibility. If you’re planning to use material which is copyright, then begin collecting commissions as you write the book.
Paying for permissions
You may get a nasty shock: often you will need to pay for permission to use copyrighted material – and you should assume that EVERYTHING, online or offline, is copyright.
Your publisher will assume that you know that you must collect permissions, and it can take a long time to collect them, particularly if a book from which you’re quoting is out of print. Once you’ve signed a publishing contract, your editor will send you permission forms. If he forgets, remind him.
Song lyrics seem to be a particularly contentious area for permissions – I know several authors who were shocked at the amount of money asked for for permission to use song lyrics, so be aware. 🙂
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