Requesting Permission From a Copyright Owner to Reproduce Material
You need to seek permission from the copyright owner to reproduce material if:
- You wish to use more of the material than is allowed under a provision in the Copyright Act.
- You wish to use material for purposes other than educational use, fair dealing or personal use, i.e. for commercial use.
- You own the copyright for the work.
- The University of Melbourne owns the copyright and you wish to use the material for University of Melbourne teaching purposes or business. If you are not part of the University of Melbourne, see Requesting Permission to use University of Melbourne Copyright Material.
- Copyright in the work has expired .
- You are copying or communicating an insubstantial portion - up to 1 per cent.
- You have an express licence to use the work, e.g. a contract, web site conditions, copyright owner has explicitly waived copyright, etc.
- Your proposed use is a fair dealing and you observe the limits and rules under the fair dealing provisions.
- You are copying or performing music for educational purposes as covered by the Music Licence.
- Your use is for the educational purposes of the University as described in the Statutory Licence provisions.
- You wish to reproduce the material for personal use and you observe the limits and rules under the personal use provisions.
Only the copyright owner can give permission for their works to be reproduced, published, performed, communicated, broadcast or adapted. The copyright owner is not necessarily the author or the creator of the work. If the work was created as part of a person's employment, then the employer owns the copyright in the material. In some cases, copyright owners will transfer or assign their copyright and/or some or all of their exclusive rights to a third party. Some copyright owners allow a third party, such as a collecting society, to give permission on their behalf. Identifying and locating copyright owners can be difficult. If the copyright owner has died copyright is usually owned by that person's spouse or children or may have been willed to someone else.
There is no requirement to register copyright ownership in Australia and no therefore no central database to access to locate copyright ownership. The ease with which a copyright owner can be identified will depend on several factors including the age, type of material and the identity of the author.
You should keep a record of all searches and attempts to locate the Copyright Owner, as well as all correspondence with the copyright owner and all documents related to seeking permission.
Literary, Dramatic and Artistic Works
- The first step should be to contact the publisher. Most publishers will have a website which will include information about requesting permission.
- If the publisher cannot give permission, they may be able to direct you to the copyright owner. The Copyright Agency Limited may be able to provide contact details for a copyright owner.
- The author, if they are the copyright owner, can also giver permission. Try searching Google to locate contact details for the author.
- For artistic works, contact VISCOPY - the collecting society for visual artists - they may be able to give permission or assist in locating the copyright owner.
- For artistic works held in galleries or museums, contact the museum or gallery as they may be able to give permission or assist in locating the copyright owner.
- If the copyright owner has passed away, look for an estate webpage, as this may be able to prove information about requesting permission.
- Try searching Google for a web page or contact details of a copyright owner.
Musical Works and Sound Recordings
- In the first instance contact APRA/AMCOS as they are often able to give permission on the copyright owner's behalf. If they are not able to give permission they may be able to provide contact details for a copyright owner.
- PPCA licenses recorded music & music videos for public performance, communication or broadcast.
- Try searching Google for a webpage or contact details of a copyright owner.
- To gain copyright permission to copy a sound recording, the following copyright works may require separate permissions:
- Audio Recording
Copyright in the recording usually belongs to the relevant record company. ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) may be able to provide a licence on behalf of the copyright owner of the audio recording.
- Musical Work (Written Composition)
Copyright in the musical composition usually belongs to the composer or arranger or the music publisher. APRA/AMCOS (Australasian Performing Right Association/Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society) may be able to provide a licence on behalf of the copyright owner of the musical work.
- Literary Work (Lyrics)
Copyright in the lyrics usually belongs to the songwriter or the music publisher. APRA/AMCOS (Australasian Performing Right Association/Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society) may be able to provide a licence on behalf of the copyright owner of the lyrics. Note: When you copy a sound recording you're not physically making a copy of the printed composition and lyrics but it is still considered to be a reproduction of the lyrics, the composition and the recording itself.
- Audio Recording
Films and T.V. Broadcasts
- Contact the film production company. If they are not able to give permission, they may be able to provide contact details for the copyright owner.
- ScreenRights may be able to provide contact details for a copyright owner or a film production company.
- Try searching Google for a webpage or contact details of a copyright owner or a film production company.
- Material on web sites is subject to copyright and you may need to get permission to use material on the websites.
- Check the Terms & Conditions or Disclaimer on a web site for information about copyright ownership and requesting permission.
- If a web site does not have any Terms & Conditions or Disclaimer, there should be a maintainer that you can email for information.
- Requests for permission to use copyright material owned by the Commonwealth, see Commonwealth Copyright Administration
- Where copyright is owned by a State or Territory, requests for permission are handled differently depending on what the material i.e. judgements/legislation or a government report, as well as the process used by each State or Territory.
- New South Wales - No permission is required to reproduce NSW legislation and/or judgements.
- Northern Territory - No permission is required to reproduce NT legislation. For all other material email the Office of Information Commissioner
- South Australia - Allows non-commercial use only for your own personal use or within your organisation. For all other uses, permission is required from the relevant department, contact them via their website.
- Tasmania - Allows non-commercial use only. For all other uses, permission is required from the relevant department, contact them via their website.
- Victoria - Allows non-commercial use only. For all other uses, permission is required.
- Western Australia
- For unpublished material the first step should be to contact the author. If the author created the material as part of their employment, the employer may be the copyright owner.
- Try searching Google for a webpage or contact details of a copyright owner.
When the copyright owner of a work cannot be identified or located, the material is called an orphaned work. Orphaned works are still subject to copyright and cannot be used without permission. If you have an orphaned work and would like to use it in a way not covered above, contact the Copyright Office
For assistance in identifying, locating and contacting the copyright ower, contact the Copyright Office.
It is also recommended that permission is received in writing. All records of your efforts must be kept.
When obtaining permission from the copyright owner, it is important to be specific about your purpose. The permission letter should include:
- Name of the author, web author, publisher or editor.
- Title and editions of material to be reproduced; include this for webpages.
- Exact material to be used, giving amount, page numbers, chapters. If possible a copy of the material including quotations, diagrams, images and other materials. In a web environment a URL link to an image or diagram.
- Proposed use, precisely described including the duration of use, form of distribution (University or student webpage; multimedia presentation; dissertation; printed publication). The permission letter equates to a 'licence' or 'terms and conditions' of use. Don't assume the copyright owner knows or understands how you intend to use their material or gives unlimited permission to use their material in any way.
- Details of whether the material will be sold commercially for financial gain (profit) or compensation (cost recovery) or neither?
- Details of the individual making request: describe yourself, position, organisation represented if applicable. Include return address, telephone/FAX numbers and email.
A refusal to grant permission or a failure to reply to a permission request does not give the person requesting permission a valid reason for using the material. In this situation any reproduction, communication, or performance that takes place without the permission of the copyright owner is likely to infringe copyright.
Copyright owners have the right to request a fee in return for giving permission for their material to be used. Fees will vary depending on the material involved, the intended use and the copyright owner's discretion. Fees may vary from a flat fee to a fee structure or percentage based on number of uses etc. Depending on the intended purpose, e.g. non-commercial or non-profit, and/or the material in question, some copyright owners may allow their material to be used free of charge. However, this will depend entirely on the copyright owner.