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Copyright for Students

How to Seek Permission


You can contact the rights holder directly to seek permission but this can be a complex and long-drawn out process which we will not necessarily be able to support you with. Another option is to find an alternative third party work to use.  

If you wish to make use of copyright material in ways that would exceed fair dealing and is not covered by one of our licences, you will need to get permission of the copyright holder. Doing this is not always straightforward and may require payment of a fee. Copyright is an automatic right and although there are services to help you find the rights holder(s) they are not comprehensive.     

If you know the creator / author of the work you wish to use, search for contact details of the rights holder(s) in the sources listed in Contacts, Links and Further Help. When contacting the rights holder: 

  • Describe in detail what you want to use  
  • Describe in detail how you want to use it (state if the use is non-commercial) 
  • Specify the circulation or audience that the material will reach 
  • Think ahead - seek as wide a range of permissions as you think you may need 
  • Keep records of all contact with the rights holder 

If the rights holder provides a licence agreement for you to sign, read the small print. 

If you cannot trace the rights holder, the work may be an orphan work. See the Intellectual Property Office's guidance on how to obtain a licence to use orphan works.  

Please note the EU Orphan Works Directive, which allowed for certain uses of orphan works without having to apply for a licence from the IPO, no longer applies to the UK (since January 2021) the UK. More information about orphan works.