Requesting permission from a copyright owner to reproduce material

You need to seek permission from the copyright owner to reproduce material where you wish to use more of the material than is allowed under a provision in the Australian Copyright Act or licence from the copyright owner.

Only the copyright owner can give permission for their works to be reproduced, published, performed, communicated, broadcast, or adapted.

There is no requirement to register copyright ownership in Australia and 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.

Requesting permission

It is recommended that permission is received in writing. All records of your correspondence must be kept.

When obtaining permission from the copyright owner, it is important to be specific about your purpose. The permission letter should include:

  • date
  • 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.

Download Sample letter template (MSWord, 54kb)

Fees for permission

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.

Information on this page adapted from University of Melbourne Copyright Office and used with permission from University of Melbourne