Copyrights and Permissions

What Is a Copyright?

As an author, you have two concerns with copyright law--as the copyright proprietor of your own work and as the user of copyrighted works by other authors.

Your manuscript is protected by copyright from the time of its creation. Copyright protection means that the copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, or adapt a work for any purpose, with certain limitations as specified by U.S. copyright law. Currently, the term of a copyright (with a few exceptions) is the life of the author plus 50 years, which may be extended to 70 years under pending legislation. When you sign an agreement to publish with Wiley, in addition to publishing the work, Wiley will seek to maximize income for the work by licensing rights to other publishers and granting appropriate permissions to others to use excerpts from your work. Also, in consultation with you, we may pursue infringements that come to our attention.

The second concern, the "other side of the coin" relates to use in your manuscript of material copyrighted by others. It is your responsibility to obtain permission to use others' material in your work. This document will assist you in meeting your obligations.

Permission Requirements

Although the copyright statute and court cases call for a fact-based, case-by-case analysis to determine whether use of third party copyrighted material requires permission, it is not realistic or practical to assume that all authors are aware of the legal parameters. Hence, industry practice has resulted in a consensus on guidelines reflected in this advice. These guidelines apply whether the source material is old or recent, as long as it is in copyright. They apply whether the source material or your work is in print or in electronic form, and whether you change from one format or media to another. However, there are special issues that relate to new media noted below.

Material That Requires Permission

As a general guide, permission is more likely to be needed if the source material is short or the excerpt which you wish to use represents a significant portion of either of the work in which you found it or in which you intend to use it. Also, any material which constitutes or represents the heart or key elements of the source material, such that your use could possibly serve as a substitue for the original, will also require permission. More specifically, you should always secure permission for:

1. A single quotation or several shorter quotes from a full-length book, more than 300 words in toto.

2. A single quotation of more than 50 words from a newspaper, magazine, or journal.

3. Artwork, photographs, or forms, whether or not from a published source. Sometimes more than one permission is required for a photograph, e.g., from the photographer and also from the creator of the underlying work shown in the photograph.

4. Charts, tables, graphs, and other representations where, inevitably, you are using the entire representation, since the copyrighted features are complete in themselves and inherent in the whole work.

5. Material which includes all or part of a poem or song lyric (even as little as one line), or the title of a song.

6. Computer representations, such as the depiction of results of research on computerized databases, the on-screen output of software, reproduction of web pages, and the capture of Internet or other online screen shots. (For small and insignificant portions, "fair use" may apply; see description below). Please note, however, that if a website invites or authorizes copying and there is nothing to indicate it contains material which is original to others and therefore would require permission from the original source, then you do not need to get permission.

7. Any third party software to be distributed as an electronic component with your book. A separate form letter and tracking table are available for such permissions. Please contact your editor.

8. Use of materials from other Wiley publications, and from your own previously-published works. Note that while Wiley will not charge you a fee to use Wiley-published materials, we may collect a fee on behalf of the author and/or the artist, and you still need to insert a credit line in the text of your work. Contact the Wiley Permissions Department if you need permission for use of Wiley-published materials. (See the Wiley Permissions Department website at:

In addition to the above guidelines to obtain copyright permission, you are also responsible for securing all other required clearances, including permissions for the use of trademarks and releases from privacy claims. For example:

  • A release may be required for photographs or reproductions of specific brand-name products and for use of trade names and logos. Contact the company.

  • You may need releases for photographs of people, especially private citizens as opposed to public officials and public figures. This is particularly necessary if such material will be used on the cover or in part of the promotion of the work and does not specifically illustrate material in the text. You should contact your editor for the Wiley-approved release form.

Material That Does Not Require Permission

The copyright law recognizes the value of the free flow of information in society and encourages authors to expand knowledge by building on the work of those who wrote before them. Copyright does not prevent the use of facts or ideas, but only the author's expression which, as discussed below, is more than just the words or pictures. In addition, even when material is protected by copyright, there are situations where permission to reproduce is not required.

Fair use.

"Fair Use" is a legal term, so you should not assume it will permit your use of copyrighted material from other authors just because such use seems "fair" to you. Generally, a use will constitute "fair use" if minimal, commercially insignificant portions of an existing work are copied, quoted or paraphrased for purposes of comment, criticism, illustration or scholarship. In a commercial context, the doctrine of "fair use" is quite limited. If you are in doubt about whether your use of copyrighted material is a fair use, go ahead and request permission.

Even if your use constitutes "fair use," and you do not have to obtain permission, you should give proper credit to the original source in the form described below.


Generally, you can use material from an interview you conduct, including direct quotes, without securing a signed release if the circumstances and your notes clearly reveal that the source knew you were conducting an interview for possible publication and did not indicate an intent to restrict your use of the material. Otherwise, you should ask the interviewee to sign a release. You should contact your editor for the Wiley-approved release form.

Facts, Information and Ideas.

Generally, you may use facts and information you obtain from another work. However, this does not permit you to use the author's original literary expression which includes, for example, more than just the words or the specific lines of a drawing. Copyright encompasses the format, organization, sequence and style of presentation as well as the sense or feeling of the original. When paraphrasing from another work, even if you do not have to request permission because you are paraphrasing a very limited portion of the source, always give credit to the original source. You do not need to credit well-known concepts or theories or strictly factual information, however, as long as they are expressed in your own way.

Public Domain.

You do not need to obtain permission for materials that are in the "public domain." This includes all official U.S. government publications as well as materials for which the copyright has expired. The copyright expiration date is often difficult to determine. It is safe to assume that anything copyrighted in this century is still protected. Modern translations of older works are also protected, as are photographs and other portrayals of public domain images. Other materials may be in the public domain because they were published without a notice of copyright at a time when such notice was required to preserve copyright. Once again, this is hard to determine. Some material is intentionally and explicitly made available to copy or use, such as "clip art." Clip art includes standard line drawings that are available in books and on disks and are classified by subject area (sports, animals, etc.) specifically for free use in other publications.

Who is Responsible for Obtaining Permissions?

Obtaining written permission to use copyrighted material is the author's responsibility. The author should use the written Permissions Request Form described below.

In a multi-author volume, the chapter authors must obtain permission to use copyrighted material in their chapters, and the volume editor is responsible for making sure that they have done so.

When Should You Apply?

Request permission as early as possible. Response time of from four to six weeks is not uncommon, and it can take much longer. Follow-up calls after a few weeks can help to avoid further delay, but there are often additional snags, such as unexpected fees or rejections or people who are difficult to reach. Under the terms of your publishing agreement, you should submit all permissions to us along with your final manuscript. If this is not possible, you should advise your editor of any permissions requests not yet granted and when you expect to receive them. Since publication of this material in your work is contingent upon receiving permission, it's important to follow up with your editor on any problems, in order to avoid jeopardizing the scheduled publication date.

To Whom Should You Apply?

Send your written request to the permissions department of the publisher whose material you wish to use regardless of who holds the copyright. Always check credit lines on the sources you use to see if the material is actually original or from another book. If the material is credited to another book, then request permission from the original publisher. If the publisher does not control the rights, your request will be referred to the appropriate party, but you may have to call and follow up. You need to obtain the author's approval only if the publisher instructs you to do so. Rights might also belong to illustrators, photographers, agencies, or corporations. In addition, rights can be sold or willed to others, so it can be difficult to track down the actual copyright holder. Publishers usually respond to requests for permission within a reasonable time. The need to consult the author or refer your request to another copyright owner may, however, extend the time required for granting permission.

The Permission Request Form

Use the attached Permissions Request Form to request permission to use third party copyrighted material. Prepare it in quadruplicate, retain one copy in your file, send one copy to your editor at Wiley, and mail the other two to the copyright owner. Enclose a photocopy of the requested material with your request and make sure that Wiley also has a copy. If you wish to delete or edit portions of a selection, say so in the request.

Permission Fees

Under the terms of our publishing agreement, the author (or contributor in a multi-author volume) is responsible for the payment of permission fees. Fees charged for reprinting copyrighted material must be agreed on, in each case, by the seller and buyer of the rights. Most large publishers have standard rates for various classes of books, but there is no generally accepted set of rates for all publishers. Many publishers do not charge fees at all for small uses, and other publishers are willing to negotiate fees. If rates seem unusually high or require a pro rata share of your royalties, or if the rights holder makes any other demands (such as credit on the cover or a large number of free books), consult your Wiley editor before you sign an agreement with the copyright owner. If you decide not to use copyrighted material because of a high fee after permission has been granted, you should inform the copyright holder to avoid being inadvertently billed.

What to Do With Permissions Granted

When you send your manuscript to Wiley, include copies of the permission letters, all related correspondence and the completed Permissions Summary Form described below. Retain duplicates of all these documents for your records. These documents become part of our permanent record which is used, for example, in determining market rights and in work on future editions. Signed permission forms should be sent to your editor along with the final manuscript. Failure to do this may delay the publication of your book. If you are still waiting to get signed forms back at this point, you may have to consider dropping the material in question from the book.

How Do You Use the Permissions Summary Form?

The Permissions Summary Form is an aid we provide to help you keep track of your requests and the permissions granted. An explanation is on the form. Write in the permission number you put on your request and your manuscript page and figure and table numbers. Enter the appropriate codes. For example, in the "Editions" column enter FU for permissions granted for this and future editions of your work or ED for permission covering this edition only. In the "Market" column enter W for world rights in all languages or NA for North American rights. The standard Permission Request Form asks for all rights, but the copyright holders may note limitations when they sign and return the form. It is important that Wiley knows about any limitations. You must notify your editor if the permission granted to you is restricted in any way. If the restriction limits Wiley's rights in any medium or format, territory or language, it may be necessary to delete this material from your manuscript.

If the grantor of the permission is to receive one or more copies of your book, state the number and attach the grantor's address. When you have all your permissions finalized, send a copy of the summary form with your permission letters to your editor at Wiley.

How Should You Give Credit?

Be scrupulous in giving credit for material used from someone else's work. Whether or not permission was needed for its use, do acknowledge all material taken from another work and make clear which portions of your work come from another source. Acknowledgment, however, is not a substitute for permission to use material. It is your responsibility to include all necessary credit lines in your manuscript before sending it to us. Credit lines may be inserted on the page where the borrowed material appears, or they may all be grouped together in the front matter of the book. In granting the permission, the copyright owner may specify the form or the location of the credit line, or both. Note the line at the bottom of the Permissions Request Form where a credit line can be specified. Follow such instructions regardless of the style and method of acknowledgment used in the other credit lines in your book. If the form and location have not been specified, check the copyright page of your source material for the style to use. Indicate first that the quote is being used with permission. For example, to give credit properly from a Wiley book, you would use this form:

From Brown, The Best Book in the World, 4th Edition. Copyright © 2000 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

When you get permission, the grantor usually specifies the proper copyright notice for you to use. However, when you simply give credit, the correct copyright notice for you to use will be found on the copyright page of the source material. It is not necessary to include any material beyond the copyright notice as given in the above example; for example, you do not need to include reference to the statutory provision of U.S. law, even if it is reproduced on the grantor's copyright page. Generally, a figure is credited in its legend/caption, a table in a source note, and a quotation in an end note. If most of your reprinted material comes from a single source or only a few sources, you may wish to acknowledge it collectively in the front of the book unless it's specified in the permission letter that the credit lines must appear with reprinted material. You should supply a separate list of credits for this material with your manuscript. Note that even when full acknowledgment is given elsewhere, the source of each item should normally be indicated (Author, date) wherever the item occurs.

Why Go Through All This?

There are two reasons for clearing permissions. The first is your status as an author: you will want other authors to respect the copyright in your book by getting permission, crediting your book and paying any appropriate fees when they use material from your book.

Secondly, if your published book includes material copyrighted by third parties for which you did not obtain permission, you could face legal action for copyright infringement. The copyright holder has recourse to several remedies through the courts, including suing for fees and damages. It is even possible that all copies of your book would be taken off sale immediately, impounded or destroyed. It is in everyone's best interest that you take the time to apply for permissions.

Permissions Checklist

The following checklist may help you organize your effort. (If you have further questions, be sure to ask your editor.)

  • Make a list of all items for which permission may be required.

  • If you suspect it may take time to locate the copyright holder, start early and call first rather than writing immediately. When you find the copyright holder, apply for written confirmation.

  • Make four copies of the permission requests and of the material for which you have requested permission. Send two to the copyright holder and one to Wiley. Keep one for yourself.

  • Four to six weeks after sending the letters, follow up with a phone call on any that have not been returned to you.

  • When you receive a signed permission form, make a note of it on the Permissions Summary Form. If there are restrictions, contact your editor because such restrictions may make the inclusion of the material unacceptable. If, for example, Wiley is considering publishing excerpts from your work on the World Wide Web or in a CD-ROM, you must be sure to avoid restrictions on re-use in derivative works or in other media.

  • If the grantor requests complimentary copies of the book, indicate the number and provide Wiley with the grantor's address. (Note that Wiley will not provide an unusually high number of comp copies without prior approval.)

  • Check the signed form for any specific directions concerning format or positioning of credit lines and follow them.

  • Add credit lines either to the manuscript as footnotes or source notes or to a separate legend in the manuscript, or compile a list of all credit lines for front matter and include it in the manuscript.