- Your Permissions Obligations as Author
- When Permissions Are Necessary
- When Permissions Are Not Necessary
- Understanding Creation, Ownership, Permissions
- NAEYC's Permission Policy
- How to Obtain Permissions
The great majority of the typical book manuscript is original material created by the author(s) for that particular project. But very often authors also find it useful to incorporate “pre-existing” material—that is, text, tables/charts, figures/diagrams, photographs, or artwork that has already appeared elsewhere. Sometimes the material has already been published (e.g., in a book, on a Web site, etc.) and sometimes it has already been disseminated in an unpublished medium (e.g., in a conference session handout, as a PowerPoint presentation in a workshop, etc.).
We welcome your inclusion of pre-existing material in your manuscript, as long as the use is legal, ethical, and conforms to NAEYC’s permissions policies as described below.
- This guide primarily addresses including pre-existing written material (i.e., narrative text, text tables, text figures, poetry, song lyrics, etc.) and pre-existing artwork.
- For more about photography permissions, see our Photograph Submission Guidelines.
As do most publishers, NAEYC’s Author Agreement asks you to assure us (“warrant”) that your entire manuscript is legal and ethical for NAEYC to publish.1 In signing the Agreement you are asserting that the content of your manuscript is your own creation and you are its owner except for material owned by others that you possess the legal and ethical right to include. Per the Agreement:
Further, you are accepting as your responsibility the task of obtaining any needed permission (although as described later in this guide, NAEYC is prepared to do a lot of that work for you, including paying reasonable fees). Per the Agreement:
"To the extent that any pre-existing works are contained in the Work submitted under this agreement, the Author shall be solely responsible for obtaining, if necessary, appropriate and documented permissions."
The permissions issue always arises when you want to include another person’s material verbatim (i.e., exactly the same as the original) or in a form so similar to the original that readers won’t likely notice that it’s different (e.g., verbatim except for a few words or phrases).
Permission is also an issue if you want to include a lot of another person’s material—and the definition of “a lot” varies. For example, permission is always required if you want to include any portion of a poem regardless of length, or a part of someone’s artwork; it might be required if you want to include a couple of paragraphs from a journal article.
Moreover, while it definitely is always appropriate to credit the other person as the source of the included material in whatever form, credit is not necessarily sufficient to make the inclusion ethical or legal.
More on all this below in “Understanding Creation, Ownership, and Permissions.”
Permission is not required when you merely describe or discuss in your own words someone else’s ideas, concepts, or findings. For example, you might want to cite the person’s work in your text, but you do not need permission from Howard Gardner to write about “multiple intelligences” or from Vivian Gussin Paley to describe how to use “story acting” in the classroom.
However, you do want to be careful not to seem to appropriate another person’s unique and original ideas as being your own. Portraying someone else’s material as your own is not a permissions issue per se. It is plagiarism, which ethically and legally is much more serious. The safest route to avoiding plagiarism is to acknowledge the origin of the ideas, either by attribution informally in your text (e.g., “As conceptualized by Howard Gardner ...”) or formally with an in-text citation (e.g., “see Paley 1993”) and an entry in your references list.
You as an author can legally and ethically include pre-existing material in your NAEYC manuscript under three conditions: (1) You are the copyright owner of the material. (2) Your inclusion of the material is covered under the Fair Use doctrine. (3) The copyright owner of the material has granted you explicit permission to include it. Each of these is discussed below.
Allowed by Copyright Ownership
If you are the legal owner of the pre-existing material, you can include it in your NAEYC manuscript without worrying about permissions.
From the moment a writer or artist fixes text or an image in a unique, permanent form (by writing it down, drawing it, photographing it, etc.), that person becomes the creator of that material, be it text, tables, figures/diagrams, artwork, photographs, etc. The creator typically also becomes the owner of the material at this moment of “fixing.”
But the creator of the material is not always also the copyright owner of the material.… Even if you are the creator you are not the owner (a) if you signed over your rights to your material to another party, such as a publisher, or (b) if creating the material was a part of performing your job as an employee. If either (a) or (b) is true, your publisher or employer, respectively, is the legal owner of the material that you created. In either case, even if you were the creator, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright owner (your publisher or employer) to include that material in your NAEYC manuscript.
The exception to this rule is if inclusion of the material is covered by the Fair Use doctrine.
Allowed by Fair Use
Even if you are not the copyright owner of the pre-existing material, you still can legally include it in your manuscript without worrying about permissions if inclusion meets the requirements of the “Fair Use” doctrine.
The Fair Use doctrine of U.S. copyright law permits you to include—with proper attribution to the source, of course—limited portions of material owned by someone else without first having to obtain the copyright owner’s permission, under certain conditions. The law2,3 sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular inclusion is Fair Use:
“Purpose and character of the use”
Inclusion of the pre-existing material for the purpose of commentary, criticism, teaching, scholarship, or research is more likely to be considered Fair Use.
“Nature of the copyrighted work”
Was the original material a poem or song lyrics … PowerPoint slides … drawing or photograph … research report … scholarly article … email message? It is easier for factual, informational, published works to be considered for Fair Use than creative, fictional, or unpublished ones.
“Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole”
Using an amount that is relatively small and that is less central to the work as a whole is more likely to qualify as Fair Use. Using an amount that is relatively large or that is the heart of the work is less likely to qualify as Fair Use. This factor relates closely to the nature of the work (above).
“Effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work”
A use that will make the original less valuable in the marketplace is less likely to be considered Fair Use.
From this you can see that the answer to whether including pre-existing material in your manuscript is allowed under the Fair Use doctrine is, it depends. Ultimately, serious disagreements over Fair Use can be resolved only in the courts. To avoid that unpleasant prospect, publishers, colleges and universities, and other information distributors typically develop their own in-house policies. And NAEYC is among them, as described below in the section “NAEYC’s Permissions Policy.”
- “Purpose and character of the use”
Allowed by Permission of the Owner
If you are not the copyright owner of the pre-existing material, and if inclusion is not covered under the Fair Use doctrine, then you must get explicit permission from the copyright owner of the pre-existing material before NAEYC will publish that material in your manuscript.
How to obtain that explicit permission is described in the last section.
NAEYC has its own policy about where Fair Use ends and the need to obtain explicit permission from a copyright owner begins.
NAEYC always requires written permission before we will include any of the following pre-existing material owned by someone else:
- Text excerpt of more than 150 words
- Any table, figure, or chart
- Any photograph4—Model releases are required
- Any work by children5—Written permission from the child’s parent or guardian is required
- Any poetry or song lyrics not in the public domain—e.g., permission is required to reprint the lyrics of a song written by Raffi, but not for “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
The permission process detailed below is fairly straightforward. First, a request detailing your intended use of the pre-existing material as a part of your manuscript is sent to the copyright owner. A response can take a few weeks to several months, depending on the owner. The owner will either deny or grant permission, sometimes with stipulations and/or a permissions fee. Once the terms have been met, the written permission document becomes part of the manuscript’s permanent, legal documentation.
- Determine what pre-existing material in your manuscript requires permission. Do this as you write, or after the manuscript is complete. During editing, we will be thinking about this, too. Make a photocopy of each of the original source material.6
- Identify who owns the copyright for the material. For published material, a good place to begin looking for the identity of the owner is on a credits or copyright page in the original book or other publication that was your source for the material.
Prepare a letter requesting permission to use the material in your manuscript. Attached is a sample NAEYC permissions letter for you to follow. We will provide you with the information about your project, such as estimated page count and price.
- Draft your own letter, following the language in the sample. You would fill in the specifics of your request in the shaded areas.
At the bottom of the letter, provide a model credit line for the copyright owner to review. You may modify one of the following:
For material from a publication:
Used by permission from L. McGee & D. Richgels, Designing Early Literacy Programs: Strategies for At-Risk Preschool and Kindergarten Children (New York: The Guilford Press), pp. 121-22. Copyright © 2003 by The Guilford Press.
For original artwork or photography:
Copyright © 2000 by Betsy Lewin. Used by permission.
For previously published artwork, it may be necessary to obtain publisher permission rather than artist permission:
By Betsy Lewin. Copyright © 2000 Scholastic. Reprinted by permission.
- Attach a photocopy of the material you want to use to your letter. If you are reprinting text verbatim, photocopy those pages from the original. If you are adapting it, enclose the pertinent pages from your manuscript to show how you intend to re-purpose the original text.
- Send permission requests as early as possible once your manuscript has been accepted by NAEYC. Permissions can take many weeks, especially from large publishers. Ask permission for any material you think you might end up using. It is more difficult to obtain permission late in the editorial process; so even if later we decide not to include the material in your book, it is always better to be prepared and ask for permission up front.
- When the signed permission letter or other contract comes from the copyright owner, forward the original to NAEYC. (Make sure to keep a photocopy for your files.) NAEYC will process the agreement and will pay reasonable reprint fees on your behalf.
- When you send your manuscript package to NAEYC, make sure to keep a copy of everything for yourself—i.e., photocopies of any originals, contact information on the copyright owners, and copies of any releases and permissions you may have already obtained.
- Help! … Contact NAEYC if you need help with permissions—to track down a copyright owner, for example. Other areas where we can be useful are helping you with photography model releases and with parental permission forms for children’s artwork.
Download all 5 of the Guidelines for Writing a Manuscript (PDF).
1. This guide is offered for general reference only. It is not intended to substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney who is expert in the field of publishing and copyright law, should you have questions or concerns about your specific project.
4. NAEYC usually supplies the photographs and often the illustrations or other artwork used in NAEYC’s publications. Authors are not responsible for obtaining permissions for such material that NAEYC provides. However, if you have photos or illustrations you want to submit for publication, review NAEYC’s Photograph Submission Guidelines.
5. Written permission from each child’s parent or guardian is required whenever you want to reprint any work by children or any photographs of children individually or as part of a group shot. These permissions from parents or guardians must be obtained by you; NAEYC cannot be responsible for making these personal contacts.
6. Whether pre-existing material you want to include in your book requires permissions, is covered under Fair Use, or belongs to you but has already been published elsewhere—whenever your manuscript includes reprinted material, we like to get a photocopy of the original. As part of standard editorial work on every manuscript during production, NAEYC editors will fact-check the accuracy of each reprinted selection (exact quote, adaptation of text, etc.) against this original.