Myths & Misunderstandings

“It’s on the internet, so it is in the public domain.”

"Public domain" and "public access" are not equivalent.  All content obtained from the Internet should be treated as protected by copyright unless otherwise indicated by the rights holder and/or website owner.

"An email approval from a copyright holder is sufficient for permission."

Ideally permission should be obtained in a more official manner including a signed agreement or a license issued by the copyright holder.  A more casual "email permission" can be acceptable if the email is sent by the rightsholder or his/her authorized agent, and contains all of the information included in the SAGE Permission Request form (full identification of the material being used, a description of the project in which it will be used, and detailed description of the rights required).

"My publication is educational in nature, not commercial."

Despite the educational nature of our products, we are a commercial publisher and therefore cannot consider our use of third-party content as educational or non-profit use when obtaining permission.  Please contact your Edtiorial Team with any questions or concerns.

“I have made a good faith, diligent effort to locate the copyright holder, and so even though I did not locate them, I can use the material.”

A good faith effort to locate the rights holder of a work does not negate the need to secure permission.  Choosing to include content for works where the rights holder is unknown or unable to be located carries a potentially significant risk of copyright infringement. As such, unless the material may otherwise qualify as “fair use,” such material should be removed from the manuscript.

“I, the author, took the photo, so it’s alright to use.”

If you are the photographer of a photo, you likely own the copyright.  However, if there are individuals within the photo that are recognizable, Visual Likeness Release forms must be received from each individual authorizing the use of the photo in the book. In addition, if any copyrighted material appears in the photograph, permission from the copyright holder of the content is also required. 

“SAGE/Corwin published the material I want to use, so I don’t need to worry about securing the rights.”

It is likely SAGE/Corwin will be able to allow for its material to be reused in your book, but we must first review the material and confirm there are no rights issues that would prevent us from allowing the material to be reused.  Please communicate with your Editorial Team regarding any SAGE/Corwin content so they can facillitate a review of the rights, and maintain a record of the republication.  Please note that approval is not guaranteed, and in some instances, a fee may be required.

“All government documents are in the public domain.”

Most works created by employees of the United States federal government as part of their official duties fall within the public domain.  However, the following works cannot be assumed to be within the  public domain:

  • State government works
  • Foreign government works
  • Works created by certain federal agencies or by contractors of the federal government, or federal employees outside of the scope of their official duties
  • Third party content included in a public domain work by permission or under a license

 “The author is deceased, so the work is in the public domain.”

The death of the author does not automatically cause a work to enter the public domain.  Upon the death of an author, the copyright to the author’s work typically becomes the property of the author’s heirs or estate. 

"I've credited/sourced the content so no permission is required."

Credit to the source of third-party content is required in all instances to avoid plagiarism.  However, credit does not negate the requirement to obtain permission. Please review the Permissions Concepts section and sub-sections for more information on uses that require permission. 

"I've sought and obtained permission for content I found on a website hosting content from another source."

A website hosting third-party content may not have the authority to grant permission for content that is cited to another source. Please also contact the original source to obtain permission for such content.