Monday, October 24, 2016


Quotations of Poetry: Never quote more than one or two lines of a copyrighted poem without securing written permission from the copyright owner. Always give proper credit. In quoting poetry from a secondary source (book, magazine, or anthology), secure permission from the copyright owner of the poem.

Note: This rule also applies to hymns and music texts, unless the hymnal (or the specific hymn used) is in public domain. Always write to the owner of the copyright (if one is listed with the hymn) to secure permission to use all or part of a hymn. The title of a song or hymn may be used without permission. Also ask permission if you want to put new words to a familiar tune, arrange someone else’s music for a special application, or anything that casts their work into a new product.

Sunday, October 23, 2016



If a book contains a statement on the copyright page that explicitly requires written permissions, write for permission for quotations of any length.
  1. Quoting 100 words in a short article is inappropriate. Proportion is sometimes more important than actual length of a quotation. Follow The Chicago Manual of Style in its suggestions about “fair use.”
  2. Always write for permission to quote from any of the writings of Bruce Larson, Keith Miller, or C. S. Lewis.
  3. Although Zondervan is the publisher of Streams in the Desert, they are unable to grant permission to quote from that book. Since the author got permission for only one-time use of each quote contained in the book, permission to quote the quotes must come from the original authors or publishers, not from Zondervan. This may be true of other quotation books as well.
  4. Write for permission if the author’s phraseology has come to be closely identified with the author’s unique way of stating an issue or an idea.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


     * Send a written request to the attention of the “Permissions Administrator” or “Permissions Department.” Since the name of this department or desk varies from company to company, it is best to call ahead and ask who to direct permissions requests to.
  1. Indicate exactly which paragraphs or pages you plan to use or duplicate.
  2. If making copies (for a handout, for example), tell how many copies you plan to make.
  3. Tell how you plan to distribute the material: in a book, for commercial sale , non-profit, handout, giveaway, etc.
  4. If the material is to be used in a publication (such as a magazine, newspaper or newsletter), tell how many pages there are in the publication, and what the selling price will be.
Note: See format for permission’s letter in next posting.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


If what you want to quote is in a magazine, write directly to the magazine for permission. If the publisher bought only first or one-time rights, the author owns the copyright and he/she is the only one who can grant permission. In that case, the magazine will usually forward your request to the copyright holder if they don’t own it. You can ask them to do that in your request letter.

If you find the quote you want to use in a book, check the copyright date in the book. If older than 75 years, you can use it without permission. If less than 70 years, determine whether the copyright is in the name of the publisher or author (copyright notice is usually on the back of the title page (sometimes on the front of that page). If copyrighted in the publisher’s name, send the letter asking permission to them. If in the author’s name, prepare the permission letter addressed to the author in a separate envelope and include it in a letter to the publisher asking them to forward it to the author.

If the book publisher has gone out of business, do not assume you can go ahead and use the material without permission. Someone still owns or controls those copyrights and you need to get permission before using them. You may then contact the Copyright Information Office. They will be able to tell you who the current copyright owner is for that particular book.

Prose Quotations: The policies of publishers vary regarding quoting from their publications without specific permission. Usually you need not write for permission to quote phrases or brief sentences. Publishers do not want to be bothered by requests to quote just a few words. The nature and importance of the material to be quoted will give guidance at this point. The two factors every publisher expects are (1) accuracy in quoting, and (2) the giving of proper credit.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Author’s Responsibility

If it is necessary to obtain permission to use quotes from other sources, it is the author’s responsibility to do so. When the quote is to be used in a magazine, seek the permissions before you submit the article to a publisher. Any permissions needed for a book should not be requested until you have a buyer for the book, since permissions are often given to a particular publisher for a specific project and may expire after a certain time.

If you are not sure if certain quotes require permission, your publisher can usually advise you. Book publishers often have a rights and permissions department that reviews each manuscript for that purpose.

Be aware that some authors and publishers grant permissions for quotes only if you pay a fee set by them. If such a fee is charged, you will be responsible to pay it—not the publisher—so you will have to decide if the quote is worth the asking price. If not, delete or replace it.

With many publishers, the need for permission, or the fee set, are based on how important the quote is to your article or book, and how predominant a place it will have in your work. In other words, if it is just a quote within the text somewhere, it is more likely to be considered fair use. But if it is going to be highlighted, printed in a box or used to introduce a new chapter, they may want payment. The grim reality is that at many houses, you will be asked to pay for the quote—even if it should be fair use—just because you asked. For that reason, it does not pay to be too cautious and ask permission for every quote—whether you think you need to or not. You could end up paying much more than you need to. It is also encouraging to note that few infringement cases are brought against authors of books and articles—most have to do with TV, drama, movies, etc. where much more money is involved. At the same time, don’t let the slim possibility that you will be sued deter you from making wise and informed decisions about when you should or should not ask permission. Common sense may be your best guide.

Monday, October 10, 2016


The terms for when and how you are to be paid for a book are all covered in your book contract. It should indicate that you will be paid royalties once or twice a year (contract says which), and by what specific dates. Be sure to provide yourself with reminders so you can follow-up if the payments are not forthcoming when due. Since most publishers make these payments 90 days after the end of the accounting period, there is no reason for royalty payments to be late. If you have an agent, it will be his/her job to deal with this kind of problem.

Following are some typical problems and how to deal with them yourself:

  1. If your royalty payment does not arrive on time, call the editor you worked with on the book and ask them to check into it for you. Follow up with a letter to the editor (reiterating your phone conversation) and another letter to the accounting department asking if the royalty payments have been sent out, and if so, letting them know you have not received yours. If you have been paid on time in earlier accounting periods, assume this is an oversight or lost check. If this is your first royalty payment, be more aggressive—although it could be that the royalty account has not been set up or set up correctly. In any case, you will want to correct any problems immediately.
  2. If this is a reputable publisher, the editor will likely follow through to correct any problems and be sure you receive your check. If the editor is evasive or uncooperative, you may have more to worry about. Don’t let the situation slide—follow through immediately and persistently until you are paid.
  3. Most book publishers pay on time, so if you have trouble getting paid it is usually a good sign that the publishing house is in financial trouble. In that is the case, it is usually best to follow the “squeaky wheel” principle. Let the publisher know that if you do not receive payment within two weeks, you will take legal action to collect.
  4. In some cases you may be paid on time, but you have serious questions about whether your sales were reported accurately or you were paid according to the terms of your contract. Always study your royalty statement carefully, and ask questions if there is anything you don’t understand. Royalty statements are typically impossible to interpret, so don’t be intimidated. Ask those questions until you get satisfactory answers.
  5. If the answers aren’t satisfactory—and you suspect something is amiss—your contract should give you the option of paying an accountant to audit the publisher’s books in relationship to your royalty account. If the auditor finds a discrepancy of 15% or more (or the percentage indicated in your contract), they must pay that, plus the cost of the audit. Always check your contract to see what your options are (and try to get this clause added to any of your contracts before you sign them).
  6. Occasionally the problem in payment may be a difference of opinion about how the contract is interpreted, or you may discover that they are not abiding by the terms of the contract in calculating your royalties. For example, the contract may stipulate that if they sell books at a greater than 50% discount to bookstores or distributors, that you will get only half the usual royalty on those sales. That is a typical clause, but your publisher may be offering that higher discount on all sales to avoid paying you full royalties. You can challenge them in such a case, especially if the contract indicates that this is to be an untypical discount. It is best to have it written right into the contract that such discounts will be limited to a certain percentage, but you can still likely win in court if the publisher is not living up to an industry standard or an author’s logical expectations.
  7. Since most publishing contracts today do not allow you to sue your publisher, if you get no satisfaction in collecting your royalties or resolving differences of opinion, you may have no recourse except arbitration (which most contracts indicate).
  8. Any time you have problems of any sort with your contract, always check the terms of your contract to see how to proceed. If legal action is called for, contact an attorney who is well versed in literary matters, and understands how the publishing industry operates.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


It is possible to write about a person—even in a negative light—without having to ask their permission. However, if what you say is presented as fact, you must be able to verify it as the truth. On the other hand, if it is offered only as an opinion, that is protected by the First Amendment. Making a statement as fact—that you can’t prove—may open you up to a libel suit.

Realize that you can write negatively about a person using a different name, but if they are readily recognizable from the incident or situation described, you can still be open to libel charges.

It is always best to use two criteria for avoiding libel suits. From a legal standpoint, never write anything for publication that is not true and verifiable. From an ethical standpoint, always ask yourself if there is anything to be lost or gained by using their real name.