Quoting materials in research

No permission is needed to reproduce quotations in academic coursework. However, using quotations from other creators’ materials in works for publication may require permission from the rights holders. Fair dealing does not apply to publication.

For academic coursework

If you are a student at UNSW, you can rely on fair dealing for research or study when completing your academic coursework. Fair dealing for research or study allows you to use a reasonable amount of another creator’s work for your personal research or study needs. It does not allow you to distribute or share those reasonable amounts, but you can use them in your coursework.

For information about how much is a reasonable amount of a work, see Copyright basics.

For publication

If you reproduce another creator’s work in your own material that you intend to publish, you generally need permission from the copyright owner prior to publication. Best practice is to get the permission in writing. Permission is required in addition to accurately citing the source.

Your publisher will generally expect you to secure these permissions yourself and to warrant that you have done so. Publishers often require that you provide copies of the permissions. This process is often referred to by publishers as obtaining copyright clearance.

Examples of materials for which you will need permission to reproduce include:

  • Long quotations
    • Your publisher may give you guidance on the maximum number of words they will accept without rights holder permission (generally between 100 and 300 words)
  • Figures and tables
  • Test items and questionnaires
  • Samples of music
  • Clips of video or film
  • Musical compositions and sound recordings
  • Song lyrics
  • Illustrations

When in doubt, check with your publisher.

Requesting permission

When requesting permission, you should be very clear about exactly what you want, how you intend to use it, the nature and purpose of the new work you are creating, the size and nature of the intended audience and how you intend to distribute it.

If you consult the websites of major publishers, you will often find detailed guidelines on how to ask for permission, and some provide online forms. If the publisher does not provide a form, then you can use this guide to create your own.

You need to allow plenty of time for the process, and you should plan months in advance. If you do not receive a reply from the copyright owner, you cannot use the material.

You should retain the permissions in such a way that you could produce them if required.

You may not need to get permission if your use qualifies as a fair dealing and your use is for the purpose of criticism, review, parody or satire. Permission is not required if copyright has expired. For more information see How long does copyright last?

The Australian Copyright Council website provides information sheets that give further advice on seeking permissions and tracing copyright owners.

See also:

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