Question: I’m helping a small nonprofit with its publicity effort. Recently, several flattering articles were published (in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers) about the organization. We want to post these as PDF files available for downloading in the newsroom section of the organization’s website.
Can you tell me what is “common practice” today in terms of “getting permission” from the publisher to post vs. simply posting articles about one’s organization that have appeared in print?
Thanks for any advice.
– Carol Rugg
Senior Communications Officer
C.S. Mott Foundation
You’ve asked a great question. In this day and age of easy access to information, including news coverage, it’s all too easy to forget copyright and permissions conventions.
Due to the plethora of online publications so easy to cut-and-paste, these issues are more important than ever before. Unfortunately there’s no easy answer. There is no universal approach to permissions on the part of print and online publications. The only absolute is that you should always ask for permission, whether you plan to reproduce content in hard copy or online.
The issue is what’s called “fair use.” Frequently, publishers will allow nonprofits to use articles at no cost and don’t require permission. However, others require a fee. In many cases, once a nonprofit requests reprint permission, and clarifies how it plans to use the reprint or online reproduction of an article, the fee will be waived. But you have to ask.
Asking will get you more than the answer you need. Your request helps the publisher understand which articles are of greatest interest to its readers and why. That’s the kind of information we all appreciate.
To give you an idea of the range of permissions policies, I’ve excerpted a couple here:
The Santa Barbara News-Press
“All staff articles, graphics and photos in the Santa Barbara News-Press and on Newspress.com are copyrighted by the Santa Barbara News-Press. You may not reproduce, republish or redistribute material found on the web site or from the pages of the News-Press without the express written consent of the copyright holder. Use of the Santa Barbara News-Press masthead, flag or logo is prohibited. All material must carry the message: Reprinted with permission from the Santa Barbara News-Press.”
Education Week Magazine
“All material on this website is copyrighted by Editorial Projects in Education. Permission is required to reprint or photocopy articles from Education Week or Teacher Magazine. Authors of Commentary articles, photographers, and illustrators own the rights to their works, and separate permission must be obtained from them. We will provide contact information for these copyright holders.
- Permission is not required to link to any article or page on this website.
- Full-text articles from Education Week, Teacher Magazine, or any part of Education Week on the web may not be reproduced on any website, newsgroup or mailing list without explicit permission. Permission for web reprints may be obtained by contacting us.
- If you wish to purchase a PDF version of an article for web-only posting, please submit your request to the Reprint Department online. Fees and restrictions apply. Please include the name of the article you wish to republish, the author, the URL of the site, proposed posting date, and estimated archive time.”
So Carol, go ahead and ask. At worst, you’ll be asked to pay a fee and will then decide whether reprinting the article is worth that cost. At best, the fee will be waived and you’ll have reinforced a good relationship with that publisher.