How do I get permission to use someone else’s work?


You ask! The permission must come from the copyright owner so the first step is to identify who the copyright owner is and whether there is an organization that represents the owner.

There are a number of copyright collectives that can give you permission (in the form of a license) on behalf of the copyright owner to use their work. For example, if you want to use music and your use doesn’t fall within any of the Copyright Act’s exceptions, you can go to copyright collectives such as Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) or Re:Sound Music Licensing Company that administer copyright in music.

However, if the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, it can sometimes be easier to contact them directly as many copyright owners will give permission to academic users without requiring payment. Usually you will be able to identify the owner somewhere on the work by looking for the copyright symbol ©, which should have the copyright owner’s name next to it. You’ll often find this at the beginning of a book, at the side of a photograph or at the bottom of a web page. Once you’ve located the owner, simply email or write to him/her, explaining how and why you want to use the work and requesting permission. The permission should be in writing; an email message will suffice. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission. Once you have obtained permission please forward a copy to Copyright Services.

Copyright Services can help in seeking permission to use copyrighted materials in your class. Contact for more information.


  • Last Updated Jan 14, 2021
  • Views 773
  • Answered By Heather Buffett

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