20 Copyright and other publishing responsibilities

20.4 Permissions

20.4.1 What needs permission

As explained above, unless the fair dealing provisions apply the copyright owner’s permission needs to be obtained when a substantial part of a copyright work is to be copied. Such permission may sometimes only be given on payment of a fee or some other form of consideration. Most publishers expect authors to secure permissions to reproduce any copyrighted work in their text.

There can be no hard-and-fast rules to allow authors to gauge when they have taken a ‘substantial part’ of a work. As stated in 20.2.1, substantiality is a qualitative measure and calculating the arithmetic proportion copied does not assist. An extract may be deemed to be a substantial part of a work, and therefore infringing, even where only a small part of the work has been taken. Careful consideration must always be given to the amount copied from a qualitative viewpoint. For example, one author was found to have infringed the copyright of another when he copied one page from a long book, and a thirty-two-line poem was deemed to have been infringed by the unauthorized use of four lines. If in doubt authors should seek guidance from their editor/publisher.

20.4.2 Requesting permission

In requesting permission, authors should describe the work in which the material is to be included, specifying the author, the title, the publisher, and the type of work, so the copyright owner understands where, and in what circumstances, their material will appear. Authors should give the copyright owner specific information about the work in which the material originally appeared, to aid identification.

Authors should make clear if they are translating, redrawing, or modifying copyright material. Care should be taken to request all the rights needed. Note that the rights for different territories may be separately owned. Also, care needs to be taken when issuing a new edition of a work to check whether the original permissions cover the new edition as well.

Crown copyright publications include bills and Acts of Parliament, command papers, reports of select committees, Hansard, non-parliamentary publications by government departments, naval charts published by the Ministry of Defence, and Ordnance Survey publications. The rules relating to Crown copyright are different from the general rules on copyright. Guidance can be obtained from the National Archives.

20.4.3 Acknowledgements

This section sets out general industry practice relating to acknowledgements. It applies where the copyright owner does not impose specific provisions relating to the acknowledgement. For details on setting out acknowledgements see 1.2.11.

The acknowledgement should identify: (a) the author of the work (remembering that under the fair dealing provisions, it is the author who has to be acknowledged, not the copyright owner—who could be different); and (b) the work by its title or other description.

The acknowledgement should be placed where practicable or logical, given the quantity and variety of material to be acknowledged. When an entire chapter or section is being reproduced, practice is for it to appear as an uncued note at the foot of its first page. When a smaller extract or series of extracts is being reproduced, details are generally listed in an acknowledgements section, either in the preliminary matter or—especially with anthologies or collections—at the end of the work.

For illustrations, acknowledgements should be set as part of the caption; for figures and tables they are often set in a separate note below the caption under the heading Source.

General practice is to credit the source, providing the elements in an acknowledgements format along these lines:

[author], from [title of copyrighted text] [edition, if other than the first], [year of publication], © [copyright proprietor—this can be the author or another party]. Reprinted [or Reproduced] by permission of [usually a publisher or agent].

The publisher’s name alone is generally given, without the address, city, or country. When it is in a foreign language it should not generally be translated, although romanization from a non-Roman alphabet is usually acceptable. When copyright illustrations are acknowledged, use reproduced instead of reprinted.

Wording, capitalization, and punctuation can generally be standardized, although not where the copyright holder specifies a particular form of words for the acknowledgement, or its position. An acknowledgement list may be prefaced by We are grateful for permission to reproduce the following material in this volume, to save space and avoid repetition.

As a general rule, permission should be obtained for all copyright material in an anthology, regardless of length. The result is usually a separate acknowledgements section, placed either in the preliminary pages or at the end of the book, before the index. Normally an acknowledgement must be in the exact form specified by the copyright holder and not standardized; reprint and copyright years must be given in full where indicated.

In some situations copyright owners cannot be located, despite real efforts having been made to trace and contact them. When this happens the author needs to decide whether to omit the extract or to include it and risk being the subject of a copyright infringement action. If the author chooses to include the extract, a ‘disclaimer’ at the end of the acknowledgements section should be included, for example:

There are instances where we have been unable to trace or contact the copyright holder. If notified the publisher will be pleased to rectify any errors or omissions at the earliest opportunity.

It is important to understand that such a disclaimer is not a defence to copyright infringement; if an author chooses to include such material, however, the disclaimer together with the evidence of efforts made to trace and contact the copyright owners may mitigate the adverse consequences if a copyright owner should subsequently object.

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New Hart's Rules


Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms