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Copyright Permissions

  • the work is protected by copyright
  • the use is not specified by the owner's license
  • the use does not comply with Fair Use
  • the use does not comply with the face-to-face instruction exception
  • the use does not comply with the online instruction (TEACH Act) exception

Don't Forget...

Works NOT protected by copyright:

  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems and processes
  • Titles, names, short phrases
  • Facts or information that is common knowledge (i.e., calendars, rulers, weight charts)
  • Works in the public domain

Copyright Management Organizations

Once you determine that permission is needed to use a copyrighted work, either in the classroom or in a published work, you must identify and contact the copyright owner.  Many copyrights are now managed by commercial or professional organizations.

For a more comprehensive list, see Obtaining Copyright Permissions from the University of Michigan Libraries.

Journal Articles and Books, especially for educational purposes




The following provide licenses to perform musical works in public. If you wish to perform a musical work on campus, check with PFW's Office of Financial Affairs to see if our university licenses with ASCAP or BMI cover your use.


Identifying and Contacting the Copyright Owner

If permissions are not available from a copyright management organization, you will have to identify and contact the owner directly:

1.  Identify the copyright owner

  • Monographs: The copyright owner of monographs is usually listed on the verso of the title page, for example:
  • Anthologies/Collections: Copyright of individual items in an anthology/collection may be retained by the original owner, so look for the owner of each entry in the collection, for example.
  • Journal articles: The journal publisher usually owns the copyright of individual articles.  Read the journal's copyright statement carefully because sometimes permission is granted for educational purposes without having to contact the publisher.
  • Creative Works

2. Contact the copyright owner

Contact information for known publishers can usually be found through an Internet search or contacting your librarian

Contact information for individual authors and other copyright owners may be more difficult to find. Suggestions include:

  • Use an internet search engine

3. Request Permission

Your request for permission should be in writing and should clearly describe what you want to do with the copyrighted work. 

Contact the library for assistance (Sarah Wagner).

Orphan Works


Orphan works are works for which the copyright holder cannot be identified, located and/or does not respond to a request for permission. With the continued lengthening of the duration of copyright protection, there are many items in this limbo. The fact is, even if you cannot locate the copyright owner or the copyright owner is non-responsive, the work is still protected and you and/or the institution is liable for copyright infringement.  If you still want to use a copyrighted work that requires permission, consider:

  • Re-apply the Four-Factor Fair Use Test  

- Factor Three, re-evaluate the amount and substantiality of the portion needed
- Factor Four, market value of the work, may carry less weight if the copyright owner appears to be unavailable or non-responsive

  • Weigh the educational need against the risk of copyright infringement.  If the copyright owner files a complaint, taking the material down is usually enough to satisfy the owner.  However, prosecution and penalties for infringement is still a possibility.

For further information, consult the Society of American Archivists Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices