Published Written Works

You must secure the express and specific permission of the rights holder whenever you include copyrighted text in your project and fair use does not apply. 

The rights to written texts can be held by publishers, individuals, or estates.  The ability to negotiate rights through an estate or individual is variable.  Such negotiations are not always driven by considerations of profit or promotional opportunities.  It may be the luck of the draw whether such negotiations are ultimately successful.  Requesting permission from a publisher is more predictable insofar as the publishers often have specific licensing procedures often posted on their websites, describing their preferred approach to licensing (including any online forms they want you to complete and submit), the information they require to process a license request (such as the ISBN of the work), and any fees they charge for licensing various uses.

Rights may also be cleared through licensing services such as the Copyright Clearance Center

You may view a sample written request for permission on the University of Texas Libraries website.

Summary:  Published Written Works – Potential Rights Holders/Required Rights


  • Generally, the publisher of the work grants rights to use published texts.  Refer to the publisher’s website for information and forms.

Author/Author’s Agent

  • Generally, the author of the work (or his or her agent) grants rights to use unpublished text or rights relating to non-text uses of written material (e.g., adaptation, translation, performance).  A good initial first step, however, may be to first contact the publisher to see if it controls the rights in question.


  • If the author is deceased, the author’s estate may control the rights in question.  The author’s publisher or agent may facilitate rights clearance on behalf of the estate.