Sometimes, even after going through the proper steps, you may not be able to determine the identity of the rights holder for the content you seek to use, or the rights holder that you seek out may not respond to your request. Moreover, you may determine that your department does not have the funds to pay for a license to use the desired content, or the rights holder may say no to your request. Using content without permission may leave you and the University at risk for copyright infringement. The University advises that you not use content without permission from the rights holder unless fair use or some other legal exception applies. It is important never to assume that any copyrighted material, especially material available on the web, may be used freely.
When the desired content is unavailable, it is good to have a back-up plan. In such instances, as a fall-back, you may try obtaining alternative content to use in place of the desired content. For example, if you are using an illustration or even a musical performance, it might be possible to commission the creation of a substitute that achieves the same effect. With some research, you may even be able to find alternative content that is already owned by the University, or you may find resources that offer comparable content for free or minimal cost.
The “Third-Party Web Resources Guide to Free or Low-Cost Digital Content” may help you identify such alternative. Also of note is Yale’s policy “Open Access to Digital Representations of Works in the Public Domain from Museum, Library and Archive Collections.” Images of Yale collections in the public domain are available without restrictions from the websites of Yale museums and libraries.