Seeking copyright permissions

Academic endeavour is a form of bricklaying where scholars today build on the foundations laid by the scholars of yesterday, often re-using the same bricks in new and insightful combinations. The mortar that holds together this community effort is respect for the right of the originating scholar (or other author, or illustrator, photographer, etc.) to the original material. This respect is codified in copyright legislation. Quite rightly, violations can be a source of much trouble and expense, not to mention loss of scholarly standing, so it is well worth ‘doing the right thing’. (See also our guide on citations.)

Obtaining permission is mandatory

The use of copyright material requires the permission of the publisher if the material has been published, or of the owner if the material is unpublished.

The exception is so-called fair dealing (or fair use), a convention that allows the use without permission of single text extracts up to 400 words or a series of extracts with a combined length up to 800 words (provided no single extract exceeds 300 words). At NIAS Press, we generally aim to avoid lengthy quotes for a variety of reasons, so strongly suggest you keep any quotes well within the fair-dealing constraints.

 Visual material and poetry extracts are not included in the fair dealing convention, so here permission must always be sought, unless the material is so old that copyright protection has expired. Expiration time varies from country to country, but is usually 50–70 years.

Approaching the copyright holder

Do not request permissions before inclusion of the material in the book has been agreed by NIAS Press. As a rule, we prefer that authors make the approach because there is a better chance that permission is granted to them free of fees or restrictions. However, if a fee is required, it is usually the author’s responsibility to pay this.

You may find this form letter useful:

Dear [publisher or copyright owner],

I am seeking permission from you to reproduce [exact description] for which I believe you hold the copyright. The material is to be used in [an academic monograph / a reference work / an edited volume, etc.] that I am [writing/editing] entitled [your book title and subtitle], to be published by NIAS Press of Copenhagen, Denmark. My editor tells me they expect to print [number] copies in hardback and [number] copies in paperback to cover global sales. I would be very grateful if you would grant me permission for this use of your material, and will of course ensure that your ownership is fully and clearly acknowledged in the resulting book.

Yours sincerely,

Where permission has been obtained, the copyright holder may require that specific wording is used. They may also specify where this should appear (in the figure’s caption, preliminary acknowledgements, etc.). Please ensure that you send us all such relevant information.

Use of part or all of your own material elsewhere

If you wish to re-use material from a book or chapter you have published with us, you must contact us for permission. Generally, we are happy to give permission free of charge for our authors to re-use material, especially where it is reworked to a significant degree as journal articles or chapters in edited volumes.

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