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Copyright for Students


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Sam Cheng
FAAD & Copyright Education

Requesting Permission

When do you need to request permission

You will need to request permission to use a copyrighted work when your use is NOT: 

  • Permitted under an exception such as fair dealing in the Copyright Act of Canada. Note that fair dealing is situational. For example, it may be fair dealing for you to copy and adapt someone else's code to use in your assignment with citation but if you want to commercialize your work with the copyrighted content, you will probably need to request permission. 
  • Covered by an existing licence. Resources available from library databases are licensed for internal educational uses only so permission is necessary if you want to share a resource from a database with someone outside of Sheridan. 

Alternatively, consider using a public domain or copyright friendly material (see the Creative Commons & Public Domain section of the Finding Images Guide).   

To request permission, feel free to use the following template letter and adapt it to your needs. 

How to request permission

Here are the steps for requesting permission: 

  1. Identify the copyright owner. Look for the copyright symbol © which is followed by the individual's or organization's name. For a webpage, copyright information is usually at the end of the page.  For a book or journal/magazine/newspaper article, the publisher is a good place to start since they likely own copyright or they can direct you to the correct contact.
  2. Request permission by writing to or emailing the copyright owner. Provide details on how you would like to use their work (e.g., use in a thesis, your own film, or student project to be share online or in SLATE). Please refer to this template letter for guidance on the details to include. 
  3. Follow up on your request if you don't receive a reply in 1-2 weeks.
  4. Review the offer or permission, if granted. A copyright owner may ask you to adjust your initial request (e.g., reduce the amount you want to copy). Most publishers will ask for a royalty payment for using the material so you can decide if you want to pay/negotiate the fee or not use the material. 
  5. Keep a record of the permission, if granted, in case you need to provide proof of permission in the future. If you talk to them on the phone or in person, be sure to follow up by email to confirm the permission.