Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Permission to Use Copyrighted Material for Your Book

It is crucial that when composing your book, or any printed material you include somebody else's writing in, you obtain permission to re-print material copyrighted by another person or agency. A rule of thumb is never copy more than three words in sequence of another person’s work (copyright infringement). If you want to use someone else’s work word-for-word as part of your book, such as a quote or research document, you will need written permission from that person or the publisher.

Your written request should include the original authors name, title and copyright date of the work, a page number or reference site of the work, and exactly what part in total you are requesting to use. You can condense this information into a letter form, but be very specific on all details of their work. Include your name, contact information, and what you plan to use their work in conjunction with, i.e., your book title. Offer to give them credit in the book and source their name and work on the page where the work will be included. Use the following as a guideline for your request letter.

From: John Author
111 Book Writer Rd
Publishtown, USA 00799

To: Mr. Expert,

I am writing a book tentatively titled, “John Writes a Book.” I would like your permission to include the excerpts as described below in any and all editions of the book for worldwide distribution, and in all promoting and free and paid advertizing.

In exchange for your permission, you will be listed in my Acknowledgments, names and titles index (if included in your book), and sources on the page the excerpts appear. (Optional additon…) I will also send you a copy of the finished book.

I hope you will agree to give your quality work greater exposure.

For your convenience, enclosed are a self-addressed stamped envelope and a copy of this letter for your records.

Sincerely grateful,
John Author

Material to be reprinted: Excerpts from the book “The Way is to Write.” Page 222, section begins with “Only you can write a book.” Ends with, “Are you a good writer.” Total 17 lines. Copyright date: 2001

Permission granted by:_________________________________Date____________

Permission denied by__________________________________Date_____________

The internet has made an easier job of locating people. Use the search engines to locate writers and professionals for permission. If that fails, contact the publisher of the work. If you can’t obtain permission, don’t use it.

For more book writing help, read A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story, available in all formats at Amazon.com or wherever fine books are sold.

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Unknown said...

Thanks for that, a very tricky subject.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks for posting this, Carol. I totally agree.

Anne Lyken-Garner said...

I wonder if you have to use the same format with words from a song.

A.F. Heart said...

Is this the same for college dissertations and research papers? Those occasionally get published.

Anonymous said...

To A. F.,
Yes, you definitely should have permission and reference your sources if there is any possibility your paper will be published.
Thanks for all the great comments!