Copyright automatically covers almost all original written works and works in other media such as pictures, videos etc. Unless agreed otherwise, it is your contractual responsibility to obtain written permission from the copyright holder to use their work in this particular submission if you include any copyright material, whether published or unpublished.


What copyright material can I include without permission?

You can feature material without seeking permission only if used for the purpose of criticism or review -for example, to feature a short quote to help to argue a point in your book, or to criticise the ideas in another's work. This is called "fair dealing" under UK law and extends to:

  • a single prose extract of up to 400 words from a single work
  • a series of prose extracts of up to 800 words, each of which must not be longer than 300 words, from a single work
  • and extract or a series of extracts up to 40 lines of a work of poetry, provided that they don't comprise more than a quarter of the entire poem.


What copyright material requires permission?

All other extracts or reproductions of creative works, including:

  • short quotations used as epigraphs/chapter openers.
  • poetry and literary works
  • tables, figures and lists
  • song lyrics
  • newspaper articles
  • drama and film scripts
  • photographs or illustrations that are not taken or drawn by you, or in which people other than yourself appear (see Obtaining consent)
  • single extracts of more than 400 words, or several extracts totalling more than 800 words, from a single work.
  • Any short extract may be considered by the copyright holder to be a substantial part of the work (e.g. a 50-line summary which summarizes the valuable content of a 300-page book).
  • Remember, any material on the Internet is subject to the same copyright law as material published in a commercial book - it is not necessarily public domain.

If you are in any doubt about a copyright or permission issue you must ask the editor before submitting.


How to I request permission?

You will need to send a covering letter and a copy of the material you wish to reproduce, along with the completed permission form specifying what rights are required and for which publication. We require a minimum of non-exclusive world English print and electronic rights. For some works, you may find that there are a number of copyright holders who own rights in different world territories - in such cases, you will need to approach the copyright holders individually and obtain permission from all of them.

For photographs, you will need permission from the photographer and from any people pictured, or their next of kin.

For works of art, you need to obtain permission from the artist, a picture library or museum.

The following are also helpful for tracing rights holders of written copyright works:

  • The Society of Authors (administers a number of literary estates, incl. Philip Larkin, Walter De La Mare, Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster etc.
    84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB, UK, Tel. ++44 (0)20 7373 6642, Fax ++44 (0)20 7373 5768,
  • WATCH - Writers, Artists and their Copyright Holders:



You must obtain explicit agreement from clients (organisations or individuals) for any:

  • Personal or professional information about them
  • Audio/visual work created by them as part of their treatment
  • Excerpts from conversations
  • depictions of them in photographs or illustrations

Even if you make every effort to protect the identity of an individual, this is not a substitute for obtaining informed consent. Please use the Agreement Form which we can supply.


Permission grants and consent forms

You must provide copies of all permission and consent forms with your manuscript.

Remember, obtaining any permission or consent required remains your contractual responsibility!