Guidelines for Obtaining Permissions
Some materials that authors may wish to include in their manuscripts require permission from the rights owners for reproduction. These include:
- Materials created by others for your book (such as a foreword, an essay, or an interview). Permission is always necessary for such items.
- Photographs that are not the author’s own property—personal snapshots; photographs from museums or other institutions; items from collectors or commercial providers. Authors wishing to use film or television related photographs should discuss their plans with our editorial staff before taking any action.
- Substantial quotations from published or unpublished works.
The principle of “fair use” provides for limited use of copyrighted text. Brief extracts may be used for commentary or criticism without permission if appropriate credit is given. Certain types of copyrighted text—poetry or song lyrics, for example—will require permission to reproduce even short quotations. A complete unit of any length (an essay, a chapter, etc.) will always require permission.
Writings that are definitely in the public domain do not need permission from a copyright standpoint. Works published in the U.S. before 1924 are now in the public domain. Later works whose copyright was not renewed after its original (28-year) term are also in the public domain, but it is the author’s responsibility to demonstrate that copyright has expired in such cases. Most copyrights do get renewed.
If you are in doubt about the need for permission, please feel free to discuss your questions with any member of the McFarland editorial staff.
What a Release Should Say
When obtaining permission from private individuals, the best form is a simple statement that you “own” the materials in question and that no remuneration is expected from the publisher.
When dealing with other rights holders (publishers, institutions, commercial providers), you need “nonexclusive world rights.” You may have to work with their standard releases. Try to avoid “print only” limitations, as this permission snag is the most common obstacle to offering Kindle and other ebooks. Try to avoid term or print run limitations, as we need the freedom to reprint your book whenever sales warrant.
All permissions must bear a signature and a date—this is for the author’s and publisher’s protection. If you must send out a permission request by email, insist that the permission provider print it out, sign it, and return a scan or readable photograph of this to you.
You should retain hard copies and originals of all permissions and releases for your own records and send digital copies of the same to McFarland at the time of delivery. Please label the digital files of the permissions in accordance to their relevance to the manuscript. If a permission is related to an image, use the image number in the filename, “Permission Image 05,” for example. If a permission is for a textual element, use the name of the grantor in the filename, “New York Historical Society Permission,” etc. For multicontributor manuscripts, please label those releases using the author’s last name.