What are my rights for republishing screenshots/promotional material in an academic text?
March 21, 2008 10:01 PM   Subscribe

What right do I have to republish software screenshots and promotional material within a critical/academic context? Do I need to get formal permission from the corporations that own & distribute this material?

I'm submitting a book chapter and the publisher for this text appears pretty stiff on copyright protocol. I want to republish screenshots from early GUI's (i.e. Xerox Star) and also some interface applications for the iphone. Do I need to get in touch with Apple/Xerox for this kind of republishing? I was planning on using promotional and or archival images..

This is all in the context of a scholarly text. Also, with the iphone specifically I'd be writing about an interface designed for it, not so much the device itself and I would have permission from that designer.

I've never got formal clearance for republication of images - I've only dealt with Creative Commons content online - if anybody could provide any input/direciton it would be greatly appreciated.
posted by serial_consign to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Academics enjoy broad fair use protection. Read up here.
posted by wfrgms at 10:13 PM on March 21, 2008

What does the general counsel or library of your research institution/college/uni say? They'll be able to give you a much clear definition of your obligations, if any, respective to your academic institution's general liability for these things.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:47 PM on March 21, 2008

Response by poster: The publisher for this project seems a bit stodgy and requires "explicit written permission" for any material protected under copyright. There is not even any mention about CC! I've forwarded questions (more or less what I wrote above) along to my editor but I was hoping to get some material to bring back to him if the publisher gives me a hard time with the screenshots. I'll check out that link WFRGMS!
posted by serial_consign at 7:00 AM on March 22, 2008

I handle reprint permissions requests for the nonprofit thinktank-y organization I work for. A ton of reprint requests we get come from textbook publishers. Most of the publishers I've dealt with are pretty strict about authors obtaining permission to reprint stuff - they've got a lot to lose, after all, should they fall afoul of copyright rules. Even when I tell the requesting party that no, they don't need permission to quote a paragraph of one of our reports (fair use being what it is), they usually want me to send something in writing so they can show it to the publisher.

We're pretty liberal in granting permissions, and we don't charge a fee. One area where it gets a little sticky is reprint permissions for images - I had one just the other day - because we don't always own the rights to those images. I imagine this would probably be different for Apple, but it's just this side of possible that for a promotional piece, they used a stock image or two from Getty or similar. In that case, they don't have the right to grant you permission to use that image, because they don't own it.

In a case like this, it's going to be better to ask permission than to just go ahead and use it and have to beg forgiveness afterwards, because forgiveness may be very, very expensive for a publisher who has to pulp a run or pay for the image to appear in many thousands of textbooks.

If I were you, I'd start by contacting the marketing departments of the various companies who make the stuff you're writing about.
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on March 22, 2008

You need to stand firm with your publisher and explain that fair use (in the U.S.) is not only a defence against infringement but a form of advance user right.
posted by joeclark at 9:49 PM on March 22, 2008

Er, IANAL, but wouldn't CC constitute explicit written permission?
posted by Asymptote at 1:35 PM on March 24, 2008

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