Permissions Guide

***Please note that this guide is for prospective authors at the University of Nevada Press who seek to obtain permission to run work published by others in their own books. If you are looking to obtain permission to publish University of Nevada Press works, in part or in full, please contact Press Director JoAnne Banducci (***

As the author of the work, you are required to secure all permissions in your manuscript. As you draft your manuscript, you should keep track of any material that may require permission. Begin requesting permission from the copyright holders of the material as soon as you possibly canbefore your final draft is sent to your editor. Obtaining permissions can take months, and you will want to get an early start. UNP cannot send books into production until all permissions have been received. As part of your final submission, you will need to submit a completed permissions log, as well as copies of all required permissions.  Please always keep a photocopy for your own records.

A Note on Fair Use

The U.S. Copyright Code is purposefully vague regarding the concept of fair use. Legally, fair use is based on the cumulative consideration of 4 factors as per Section 107 of the U.S Copyright Code. Due to the vague nature of the law, owners of a work’s copyright (often the publisher, but sometimes the author or another party) are free to interpret the parameters of fair use as they see fit. Some owners have a loose vision of fair use giving scholars a wide berth to quote, while others are incredibly protective. It is the official position of UNP’s rights and permissions department that authors should secure permission for all copyrighted material in order to be absolutely positive that the book is not violating any individual copyright holder’s interpretation of copyright and the fair use law. However, in practice the permissions department has set the following guidelines in order to give authors a certain amount of flexibility to incorporate copyrighted material in their work. Though other presses may have slightly different guidelines, the following guidelines are in line with what many other publishing houses adhere to. It should be noted that our guidelines DO NOT supersede a copyright holder’s interpretation of fair use.

Citations and Documentation

With use of the internet and internet-based sources becoming more widely used, we must stress the importance of using only properly-vetted sources when citing your work. Please note that Wikipedia and other sites that are not vetted by academics are unacceptable references in scholarly or professional books.

What Requires Permission

There are several types of material that require written permission:

  • Poetry and song lyrics of any length. Such permissions are often hard to get or expensive. We recommend that you do not include such material in your book unless absolutely necessary.
  • Epigraphs also require permission and we strongly advise that you not use epigraphs. If you want to use a quote to lead a chapter, embed it within the first sentence and use an endnote and you won’t need to secure permission.
  • Fiction, drama (plays, television, film), and letters. You must obtain permission to reprint over 300 words from a single work of these in the context of an analysis. Using fictional quotations for epigraphs is never fair use and always requires permission, no matter the length of the quotation. Some copyright holders of fiction are extremely vigilant about reproduction of their works.
  • Photos and artwork. Be sure that you obtain permission from the copyright holder and that you correctly determine who that is. The person or institution who holds the physical photo is not always the copyright holder.
  • Tables, figures, and graphs that are reproduced from copyrighted sources require permission. If you create your own table/graph using data from another source, it does not require permission.
  • Personal photos: A signed release should be obtained from all individuals appearing in photos you take for inclusion in your book.
  • Interviews. Consent forms must be obtained from interviewees if you are quoting long passages (more than a few paragraphs), or if the content might be considered controversial; the interviewee should know that his words will be published and sold throughout the world, and he must give written consent to that. Short, noncontroversial quotations do not require permission, but you should provide a note explaining the source (or in some cases you might briefly explain the circumstances of the interview within the text). You should certify in your note that the interviewee was aware that his/her remarks might be published in a book. If you are quoting portions of an interview with a person to whom you have promised anonymity, you must still get their written consent; you can submit the consent to the publisher or provide a letter in which you attest to your possession of the consents.
  • Quotations. There is no legally mandated number of words that can be quoted without permission (i.e., considered fair use). If you use more than one quotation from a single source, you should add the number of words in each quote together. If the total for all quotations from one source (not per quotation) constitutes a significant portion of the original work, you must get permission; 500 words quoted from a book-length, scholarly source is a good rule of thumb, but is not absolute. The Chicago Manual of Style offers some guidelines on whether your quotation is fair use:
  • How significant a portion of the original work are you using? Quoting 1,000 words from a 5,000-word article is less acceptable than quoting 1,000 words from a 50,000-word article.
  • How significant a portion of your work does the quotation constitute? The quoted material should not begin to “overshadow” your own material, and you should not overquote to avoid drafting an argument yourself.
  • Would the use have an effect on the potential market for, or value of, the original work?
  • Unpublished material. Guidelines for fair use are even stricter for unpublished material than for published material. Unpublished material is protected whether or not it has been registered or includes the copyright symbol. Anonymous or works for hire are protected until 120 years from date of creation. Unpublished works written before 1978 by a named author are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years and in no case will have expired before December 31, 2002.
  • Web-based material. Do not assume that illustrations or other material you find on a website can be freely downloaded and used. Copyrighted works on the Internet include news stories, software, novels, screenplays, graphics, pictures, Usenet messages, and email. If you are considering using material that is under a Creative Commons license, be sure to check the creator’s licensing conditions, which can limit commercial re-use.
  • Chapters reprinted from an earlier source require permission from the original copyright owner. Do not assume that the writer of the chapter/selection is the copyright owner. The journal in which the chapter first appeared or the original publishing company may hold copyright, and there may be restrictions on reprinting. This includes material that you have published.

For an additional discussion of fair use, see the Center for Social Media.

Several types of material don’t require permission

  • Material in the public domain. Material that has been copyrighted for more than 95 years is considered to be in the public domain in the United States. Work that has been created before 1978 but not published is considered to be in the public domain 70 years after the death of the author, but in no case will copyright have expired earlier than December 31, 2002. However, copyright laws vary from country to country, and your book will be marketed abroad. In the United Kingdom and many other countries, an author’s work is copyrighted for 50 years after his death. See the web site of the U.S. Copyright Office for details. You should thoroughly research the copyright status of any book you believe to be in the public domain, unless it is so old (say, before 1850) that it could not possibly be copyrighted in any country. Please note that modern translations or editions of older works are likely to be copyrighted.
  • Some material is always in the public domain and never copyrighted (e.g., works of the U.S. government). Note that works funded by but not created by the U.S. government are likely not in the public domain and that state and local governments (unlike the federal government) can choose to copyright their works.

How to Obtain Permission

Determine the Copyright Holder

You must request permission from the copyright holder. Check the copyright page of the source from which you are quoting. If the publisher holds the copyright, write to their Rights/Permissions Department. If they cannot give you permission to reprint, they will tell you who holds the rights and where to contact them.

If you have any questions about whether a work is copyrighted or who holds the copyright, you may contact the U. S. Copyright Office, and it will research the matter. It will charge a fee for this service but will send you an estimate of the cost before proceeding. Address: Copyright Office, Reference and Bibliography Section, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559.

Another source for investigating a work’s copyright is the Copyright Clearing Center.

Note: If the author is deceased or the publisher has gone out of business, the work may still be copyrighted. You must determine copyright status by contacting the Copyright Office.

Write a Request for Permission

The sample letter at the end of this document shows you what information to include in your request. If you contact a copyright holder for permission and then realize that your quotation is within our guidelines, you MUST abide by the decision of the copyright holder. Once they are aware of your permissions request, there is no going back. The copyright holder’s decision on permission and fair use overrules our own.

Pay Any Permissions Fees

Permission grantors may request fees; paying such fees is the responsibility of the author. These fees can vary based on a range of factors. If the grantor denies use for a particular format (for example, ebook publication), be sure to alert your acquisitions editor. If grantors ask for a complimentary copy of the finished book, this would also fall under permissions fees and would also be the responsibility of the author.

Incorporate Credit Lines into Your Manuscript

You must include a credit line acknowledging the source of the material in your manuscript. If the letter granting you permission to reprint requires a specific credit line, you must follow it exactly. Credit lines should appear either in your acknowledgments section or as a note where the material is used. Credit lines for photos may appear at the end of the relevant captions. Credit lines for tables may appear in a source note at the bottom of the table.

What if I don’t hear back from the copyright holder

You may use material for which you haven’t received permission if you can demonstrate that you have made a good-faith effort to contact the copyright holder and the copyright holder has not responded. You should have copies of several letters or emails spanning at least 3 months requesting permission, receipts from any guaranteed delivery services you may have used (either from the U.S. Postal Service or a private company like UPS), information on your efforts to track down the copyright holder (if, for example, the first publishing company you contacted directed you to another), and evidence that you gave the copyright holder enough time to respond (e.g., letters spanning several months). Should a publisher be in contact with you or us after we authorize a “good faith effort” use of the quoted material, you will be required to pay any resulting permission fee.

Sample Letter Requesting Permission to Reprint

Dear [Name]:

I am the author [or editor] of the book [title], to be published by the University of Nevada Press. I am writing to ask you for your permission to reproduce an excerpt [or an illustration] in [or translate an excerpt into English for] this publication. The source information that I have for this is:

[For a text, give the author, complete title, publisher, date, and page numbers of the excerpt you wish to use. Give the first and last few phrases of the passage, and indicate the total number of words.]

[For a photograph, give the name of the photographer and a brief description of the subject of the photograph or (where applicable) the creator and title of the work shown in the photograph. For another type of illustration, such as a map or diagram, or for a table, give complete source information as in a text excerpt, along with a brief description and the name of the creator, if known.]

The University of Nevada Press is a nonprofit, academic publishing house. [Short title] is a scholarly study, approximately [number] printed pages in length, which will be published at an approximate price of [list price]. It will be sold to libraries, scholars, and interested general readers. I am requesting nonexclusive worldwide rights in all languages and all formats and all editions of the book.


[Your name]

Documenting Text and Art Permissions

Documenting your text and art permissions is a two-step process:

  1. Gathering relevant records of permission granted from copyright holder. Ideally, these will be saved as PDFs.
  2. Filling out separate permissions tracker Excel sheets. We have created templates to facilitate this process. See below:

Please note that someone from the Press will provide instructions for how to submit these documents when the time comes.