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Licensing and Permission: Text and Images


Using significant portions of another author's work requires licensing or permission. Examples include:

  • Reprinting a book chapter or essay as part of a new anthology or course pack
  • Setting poetry to music
  • Writing a screenplay based on a novel
  • Posting or sharing a PDF of a journal article online

Getting a License for a Text

For quick turn around, request permissions through a collective licensing agency, like Copyright Clearance Center. Note that they usually add service fees in addition to the license fee.

Publisher websites allow you to request permissions by e-mail or by completing an online form. Look for links for Rights and Permissions, Requests, Reprints, Licensing, and other similar terms. Plan on licensing requests and fulfillment to take several weeks or months.


Examples of using an image that requires licensing include:

  • Using a photograph in your blog or website
  • Using an artist's design on a graphic T-shirt.
  • Using images of modern art works in a book you are publishing.
  • Using a celebrity's image to advertise your film festival publication.

Getting a License for an Image

To license images of  art, pictorial, or sculptural works you must contact artists representatives (such as a foundation) or the institution or publisher that owns the object.

Places you might find the rights holder include:

  • Publisher associated with the work
  • Royalty-free agencies
  • Artist Foundations

Types of Image Licenses

A rights-managed license includes terms for the specific use such as period of time, print run, placement, size of content, and territory. Fees are assessed based on those parameters.

Royalty-free licensing allows you to use copyrighted content on an ongoing basis. Users pay by subscription or per use. Royalty-free sites are great resources for users who create online content.

Creative Commons, a non-profit organization, offers a free, simple, and standardized way to grant copyright permissions for creative and academic works while ensuring proper attribution. License types allow many uses including copying, distributing, and modifying works in Creative Commons.

Image Resources