Copyright for Authors and Researchers:
Use of Copyrighted Works
Nothing on these pages should be construed as legal advice
In some cases the use of another person’s copyrighted material in your own publication (whether print or online) may fall under fair use, but in other cases it may not. Always evaluate your use in light of the four factors before deciding whether you need to seek permission from the copyright holder.
If you think copyright permission is needed, be sure to give yourself enough time to obtain it before you publish. Think in terms of months rather than weeks. If you don't know who the copyright holder is, you can try searching the U.S. Copyright Office's online records. Additional advice about locating copyright holders for specific types of materials is available below:
Manuscripts, documents, photographs, etc: The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has a very informative guide to locating copyright holders for these materials.
Printed music: Copyrights to printed music are typically held by the composer/songwriter or his/her publisher or other representative. Places to look for contact information include the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI), the Society of European Stage Authors & Composers (SESAC), The Harry Fox Agency, and the Music Publishers' Association.
Sound recordings/audio: Copyright permission will typically need to be obtained from both the creator(s) of the musical work and the performer(s) on the recording. For the creator, see the "Printed music" section above. Performers' permission is typically obtained through a record label, or sometimes directly from the performer (look for contact information on their website).
Visual images, artworks: Visual Artists and Galleries Association (VAGA) maintains a website listing the artists whose images they represent.
Miscellaneous: Attorney Lloyd J. Jassin maintains an extensive web page with advice and links related to searching for copyright holders
If you can't locate the copyright holder, or if he or she does not respond to your request, do not assume that gives you permission to publish. The U.S. Congress is considering new legislation affecting orphan works, but for now, silence from the copyright holder should be interpreted as a "no."