Copyright for Students

Copyright Compliance for Integrative Master's Projects

Copyright standards are stricter for works that live in the Library than for materials used in a classroom setting. Compliance with copyright law is crucial for works that are intended to circulate in the Library. For independent studies or portfolios intended to circulate, permissions should be sought for any copies of copyrighted materials that are included. Copyrighted materials include:

  • books
  • recorded music
  • websites (and the images found on them)
  • artwork
  • photographs
  • dramatic works.

The "educational use" exemption does not apply to materials that circulate in the Library.

Finding the Copyright Owner

Who holds the copyright?  Generally the publisher holds the rights to published works, either printed, on the web, or media materials. If the publisher doesn’t hold the rights, they will probably direct you to who does. If you are using an unpublished item, the author most likely holds the copyright. There are many helpful websites for locating copyright owners:

Failure to show proof of permission may result in your thesis being withheld from public use. Please make sure you include a copy of each of the permissions you have obtained with your work. Additionally, a full citation for the copyrighted material must appear on the same page as the material.

Getting Permission

This section contains sample letters and resources for help in obtaining copyright permission. Please note: Obtaining permission through email is acceptable.

  • Sample Copyright Permission Letter: Using Copyrighted Text in an Independent Study

    Materials Permission Department
    Publishing Company Name
    Company Address
    City, State, Zip
    Dear Sir or Madam:
    I am a graduate student at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City. As part of my graduation requirement, I am preparing an independent study on ______________________ and would like to request permission to include a copy of the following material:
    Title (Book or Article):
    Author:
    Journal Title, Issue, Year, Pages:
    Copyright Holder:
    Material to be duplicated (photocopy enclosed):
    Type of reprint: Photocopy
    Use: To be used as illustrative material
    Two copies of each independent study are placed in the Bank Street Library. One of the copies is available for general circulation and for interlibrary loan.
    I have enclosed a self-addressed envelope for your convenience in replying to this request.
    Sincerely,

  • Sample Copyright Permission Letter: Using Copyrighted Images in an Independent Study

    Permissions Department
    Museum, or Publishing Company Name
    Address
    City, State, Zip

     Dear Sir or Madam,

    I am a graduate student at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City.  As part of my graduation requirement, I am preparing an independent study on ___________________________,  Two copies of each independent study are placed in the Bank Street College Library , one of which will be available for public access, including interlibrary loan.  
    I would like to request permission to include a reproduction of the following image(s) to supplement my thesis text:
    [complete the following information for each image from this source]
    Artist Name:
    Title of Painting/Photograph/Sculpture/etc.:
    Title of Publication from which the image will be reproduced:
    Author of above publication:
    Page Number(s):
    Year of Publication:
    Copyright Holder:
    Type of Reprint: Color or Black & White Photocopy
    Use: To be used as illustrative material

  • Additional Sample Text

    The image(s), in the form of color copies from the online collection, would be included only in the appendix, and serve as a point of reference for the reader.
    I have enclosed a self-address envelope for your convenience.  Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this request.
    Sincerely,

  • Additional Resources

    Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University

    More Sample Permission Letters

    Additional Resources for Obtaining Permissions

    • Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) Grants permission for many text-based works
    • Collective Licensing Agencies Organizations that centralize copyright ownership information into one place
    • WATCH File (Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders). The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin and the University of Reading offers a database that provides information about whom to contact for permission to publish copyrighted text and images.
  • How to Copyright Your Own Work

    Althought copyright exists from the moment a work is created, here's how to Register a Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office (PDF).

  • Legal Sources of Online Content