Need help with getting permissions? | PLS blog

20 September 2018 Need

If you’re planning to reuse extracts of third party content in your own work, whether the extract is from a book, journal, magazine or website, and you are uncertain how to go about getting that permission – Publishers' Licensing Services (PLS) can help you. They have developed PLS PermissionsRequest, a free service which streamlines the process of requesting permission.

The permissions process can often be complex and below are some of the issues that you might wish to think about if you’re an author seeking permission or an editor charged with obtaining the appropriate permissions on behalf of your authors:

When do I need permission?

The general rule is that you need permission to reuse any content that is still in copyright. Certain uses, for example for non-commercial research or private study, do not require permission. However, if in doubt, you should err on the side of caution and always seek permission.

How do I know whom to contact to seek permission?

You need to contact the person responsible for permissions within the publisher of the third party work. Be aware though that the publisher who holds the rights to the work may not always be the publisher as displayed on the book itself, particularly in the case of older publications. If the publisher no longer holds the rights, perhaps because they have sold the title or the rights have reverted to the author (or the author’s estate), you will need to identify the current publisher.

What information will I need to provide to the rights holder?

This will depend on the intended use but as a general principle you will need to provide information on exactly what content you wish to use, including the page numbers and word count. You will also need to tell the publisher how and for what purpose you will be reusing it, the title of your new work, the territories in which it will be published and the print run or circulation of your new work. The publisher may sometimes need to ask you for more information.

How much will I have to pay?

The cost of permission to reuse content depends on the requested use and each case will be different. It will be a decision for the publisher to make. In some cases the publisher may even decide to make no charge.

How does the PLS service help?

PLS PermissionsRequest provides access to PLSclear ( a free to use online tool that guides requestors through the process quickly and easily. PLSclear collects the information that a publisher needs to make a quick decision about your request and routes it through to the appropriate person at the current publisher of the work. In many cases the service quickly issues a fee quotation for the reuse or, in some circumstances, a licence. In other cases the publisher will respond directly to the request. The service enables the requestor to track their progress of the request online.

You can use the PLSclear tool at If you have questions or would like to know more please email or call us on 020 7079 5940.


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