Obtaining permission - Knowledge Base

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Obtaining permission to use copyright work

Where can I get permission to use someone else work?

Before you can legally use someone else's work , (other than as described as ‘fair dealing’), you will need the permission of the copyright owner. The best route to follow is to contact the current publisher, (or last known publisher), of the work in question. The publisher will certainly know who to deal with, and if they cannot arrange permission themselves, they will know who you need to speak to.

Licensing agencies

With widely published, commercial music, film or literary works, it is common for the copyright owner to use a licensing agency to handle such issues, but again, the publisher will know who you need to contact, (after all the publisher must have permission themselves to publish the work).

What about work on the Internet?

For content that appears on the Internet, i.e. content and images appearing on a web site, then this should simply be a matter of contacting the webmaster of the site, (most web sites will provide an email address for queries). The person responsible for the site should be able to respond to your request, or forward your request to the relevant person.


Depending on the type of work and how you wish to use it, you should be prepared for the owner of the work to refuse to give you permission, or charge royalties for your use.

What if I can’t locate the copyright owner?

Copyright work is someone’s property and (excepting fair dealing exclusions) should not be used without the consent of the owner. If you use work without permission, and the copyright owner does appear they may wish to take action against you for infringement and you may be required to pay damages for any lost royalties and legal costs.

Further information

The following pages and fact sheets provide further information which you may find useful.

P-09: Understanding fair use

P-13: Obtaining permission to use copyright work