Securing Copyright Permissions(著作権を得る方法)

This is Stephanie of IMS.

As many IMS clients are currently-enrolled students, researchers, and professors at local universities, today I am going to give a general explanation on how using copyright materials might affect your research papers.

Research doesn’t just take place in the lab: often it consists of reading journals and papers in your chosen field and area of study. These are great resources for writing your own, but when writing dissertations or theses for a graduate course—especially those you plan to publish—you may need to ask permission to use research material.

According to copyright law, most published works fall under the following three categories:

  • Public Domain
  • Creative Commons
  • Copyrighted materials

Works in the public domain are those whose copyright status has expired, has been given up, or cannot be copyrighted. You do not need permission to use quotes, excerpts, etc. in your thesis from sources in the public domain.

Works with a Creative Commons license are generally free to use with no permission needed, but there may be limitations on how you can use the content. Please see the following link for an explanation and list of licenses available:

Works under copyright are protected by law, and you will need to request permission from the copyright holder in order to use their content in your published dissertation or thesis. In most cases, there are a few steps you need to take to secure permissions:

  1. Determine the copyright holder – Look for the copyright symbol ©, most often found on the first few pages of the book or journal. This is usually who you will need to contact to ask permission. Take note of the year: depending on when and where it was copyrighted, it may have entered the public domain. But as a general rule, if you are unsure of copyright status, always ask!
  1. Search for ways to contact the copyright holder – Many times, this can be accomplished by searching for the publisher name in an internet search engine along with the phrase “permissions” or “rights”. If this doesn’t turn up any meaningful results, look for a Contact page on the publisher’s website. If the copyright holder is a professor or student at another university, sometimes they will provide a contact email. Play detective! Being immediately unable to find the copyright holder does not mean you have permission to use the material. If you still have trouble finding someone to contact, you may want to reconsider your use of that material altogether.
  1. Ask for permission – When contacting the copyright holder, the more information, the better. Provide details on:
    • The material you’re using – the book/journal/website where you found it, ISBN/DOI/web address, copyright year, page numbers, word count, etc.
    • How you’re using the material – details of your own publication, including where it will be published, how it will be published (academic journal, online, textbook?), who’s publishing it, how many copies you expect to publish, how long you need rights (lifetime of published copies, 3-years online, etc.), and any other details that might help the copyright holder make a decision.

Luckily, many large publishing houses and companies have their own Permissions Request forms, and they will tell you what information they need to know.

Securing copyright permissions to reuse material is different for every publisher and copyright holder. Some require a fee, some require a contract to be signed, and some will send a simple email saying “sure” before you’re allowed to use copyrighted material in your published thesis or dissertation. Always read contracts and license agreements before signing and/or paying a fee, and ask for clarification on things you are unsure of.

Copyright law is complicated and may seem daunting, but in reality, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. When in doubt, ask for permission—many copyright holders will be glad to say “yes”!