Monday, January 29, 2007

Copyright Permissions: A Publisher's Headache

Don't Quote Me: At The Publishing Pro, LLC, we firmly believe that publishing is fun. And easy. Mostly. That is, until we're asked, "Do I have to get permission to use this quote?" At that point, we throw up our hands and admit to the author-publisher that, well, maybe this aspect of publishing won't be a barrel of laughs. The best we can do is make it easier. A little. Here's the deal. If what you want to quote is in the "public domain," you don't need to obtain permission. In addition, if your use of the quotation is considered "fair use," you don't need to obtain permission either. If you go to the fair-use statute in the U.S. Code, you might think that it is not all that useful. It is rather general, purposely ambiguous, and meant to apply to any number of situations. The reality is that a legimitate copyright holder usually gets to determine whether your use of the material constitutes "fair use." The upshot is: the only safe road is to get written permission from the copyright holder to use the material the way you want to use it with the credit line (and payment, if any) that the copyright holder wants. Yuk! Typically, most authors and publishers are happy for the bit of publicity that comes from being quoted and credited, but you can't count on it. To be safe, you need to ask. If you decide, as many authors do, that you can bypass this step because you "know" there won't be a problem, you are on your own. The Publishing Pro, LLC

No comments: