Clearing Copyright

You will usually need to clear copyright to include material in your book that is not your own. Copyright must be cleared before your submit your manuscript. It can take months for rights holders to respond to permission requests so please start the process as early as possible.

The first step is to decide if you need to clear copyright. If you do, you will need to identify who holds the reproduction rights to the work. For text extracts, if the book is still in print then this is likely to be held by the publisher. If the book is out of print, the rights will probably be held by the author or their estate. Image rights could be held by a gallery or the artist. If you have found quoted text or an image in another book, it should say who the copyright holder is.

Different rights holders have different processes for requesting permission to use work in copyright. If they have a website, this information should be available there; otherwise, contact them directly for instructions.

You will need to request the following rights:

  • Territory: World
  • Language: English
  • Format: Print (hardback and paperback) and electronic
  • Editions: one edition only (including all reprints)

You will need to provide some information about your book - contact your assistant commissioning editor and they will be able to tell you what you need.

Do you need to clear copyright?

Fair Dealing

It is generally agreed that no fee will be set for copyrighted text reproduced for the purposes of criticism, review, non-commercial research or the reporting of current events. 

This is called Fair Dealing, or Fair Use in the USA.

Fair Dealing guidelines are not legally binding but are based on a ‘fair trade’ agreement.

An appropriate acknowledgement must accompany materials reproduced under fair dealing. You do not need to request formal permission from the copyright holder.

As a general rule: if in doubt, contact the copyright holder.

Fair Dealing Checklist

  • Are you truly reviewing or critiquing (i.e. engaging with) the material, not just quoting it?
  • Is the reproduction of this material genuinely necessary to make your point?

Yes to both of the above ► this may fall under fair dealing

  • Are you reproducing a significant proportion of the material?
  • Are you reproducing a particularly important element of the material?
  • Would including this material mean that people might buy your book instead of the original?

Yes to any of the above ► you need to clear copyright

Film Stills

There is no legal precedent for the use of film stills in academic publications. The Society for Cinema Studies advises that frame enlargements (or screen grabs) published in a scholarly book will most likely fall into the category of fair dealing. These recommendations are not legally binding, but seem sensible.

Always clear permission for:

  • Substantial sections of text for any purpose (n.b. there is no legal definition of what counts as ‘substantial’)  
  • Any extract of text that is not for the purpose of criticism, review or reporting current events (e.g. an epigraph)
  • An extract that forms the main argument of the work being quoted
  • Extracts from unpublished work
  • Extracts from a newspaper, journal or magazine
  • Pictures, figures, maps and tables
  • Trademarks: brand images, advertisements and logos
  • Extracts from poetry or song lyrics

Clearing copyright – your checklist

  1. Check your author/editor contract regarding permission fees and who pays them.
    1. Monitor your budget and make a note of when payment is due for each extract: on receipt of permission or on the book's publication.
    2. If you and your commissioning editor have agreed a budget for permissions that Edinburgh University Press will cover, keep a tally of the total figure as you receive letters of agreement and/or invoices. UPLOAD THE TRACKER TEMPLATE
      1. Permissions fees exceeding the budget may be charged directly to you.
      2. If you look like you are going to exceed your budget, contact your editor to discuss your options as soon as possible
    3. If the final permissions bill looks too high, there are several options that you can follow:
      1. Try to renegotiate for a lower fee.
      2. Replace the material with a cheaper alternative.
      3. Shorten the material and negotiate a lower fee.
      4. Remove the material entirely.
  2. Ask for 'non-exclusive world English language print and electronic rights for one edition only, including all reprints'.
  3. Make a list of everything you need to clear copyright for – this list will form the basis of your acknowledgements page.
  4. Hand over your acknowledgements page with your finished manuscript. Make sure that you have included everything that needs to be acknowledged.
  5. The permissions agreement will often contain wording/a credit line that the copyright holder requires you to use in your formal acknowledgements. Be sure to reproduce this exactly.
  6. Keep copies of all your correspondence. These should be handed to the commissioning editor on delivery of your final typescript.
    1. We can give you a spreadsheet to help you track permissions contacts, replies etc. – just ask your commissioning editor or assistant commissioning editor.
    2. Allow publishers at least four weeks to reply – permissions departments are notoriously slow. If you do not hear back within four weeks, contact the publishers again.
  7. It is necessary that every effort shall have been made to seek formal permissions clearance from the copyright holder.
    1. It is widely and informally accepted that ‘every effort’ has been made if you have sent at least three letters and/or emails seeking permission, on three separate occasions, to the appropriate address.
    2. If you have made every effort to clear permission, and have had no reply, you must still include a full copyright credit line in your acknowledgements page to show that you have made every effort to credit the copyright owner of the material.
  8. Some copyright holders may ask you to contact individual authors of extracts/readings/articles (often a requirement of US publishers).
  9. You may need to approach the author to intervene on your behalf with her/his publisher to supply formal permission (if you have not received a response) or if a prohibitively high fee has been set by the copyright holder.
  10. The copyright holder may require a voucher copy (or several) of the book on publication. Keep a list of these requests and submit it with your manuscript.

If you don't heard back about your permissions request

You are required to make three formal permission requests

Any questions?

Contact your assistant commissioning editor if you have any questions about clearing copyright permissions.

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