Obtaining copyright permissions for text extracts and images can be a time-consuming process. Lorem Ipsum Permissons provides a dedicated freelance service that streamlines the copyright permissions process and meets the tightest deadlines.

South African copyright law (as set down in the Copyright Act of 1978) prescribes a number of items entitled to protection, among these literary works, artistic works and published editions. When an author submits a manuscript to a publisher, it would include photographs, text quotes, cartoons, full article reprints, charts, line drawings, graphs, maps, screen shots of websites or software which may have been added during the course of research, and so is subject to copyright protection.

The Copyright Permissions Process

The permissions process can be broken down into three stages.

1) Evaluating the manuscript and marking up the items that require copyright permission

Depending on the practices and requirements of each publisher, permissions evaluations are performed by the author, the editor or editorial assistant, the permissions or legal department of the publisher, a freelancer, or by a combination of these.  Most publishers provide basic guidelines to their authors on fair use practices and copyright law. Book contracts specify whether the author or publisher is responsible for doing the work of obtaining all required permissions (or for hiring a freelancer to do so). 

Many authors seeking freelance assistance start the permissions process for their books, but found the procedure confusing or stressful, especially given their primary responsibility of producing a manuscript within the prescribed deadlines. In-house editors similarly will usually find the process to be a time consuming distraction from everyday production processes.

When Lorem Ipsum copyright permissions service takes on a new project, we would immediately do an evaluation to determine at what stage the permissions process is. If necessary, we review the full manuscript page by page and create a permissions log based on our findings.  Next, we draft a list of questions for the author for further clarity on the origin or source of any other material that may need to copyright acknowledgement.

2) Obtaining written permission from the lawful copyright holders

If the manuscript has already been evaluated, the project materials should include a spreadsheet containing the items needing clearance, called a permissions log. In order to send complete and clear permissions queries, the permissions log should contain a full reference citation for each item as well as complete contact information for the copyright holder.  Where this is not immediately obvious, Lorem Ipsum permissions will conduct Internet and library research to obtain any relevant information not provided by the client.  We will trace the copyright permission holder via the ISBN numbers, publishers, literary agents, or even the estates of deceased authors/artists, where necessary. 

copyright-permissions-2We ask clients to provide their preferred permission request letter as a template.  However, If they do not have one, we will draft the letter ourselves.  The letter of enquiry will contain all the necessary information pertaining to the publication that the extract or image will be used in.  Permissions officers or copyright departments that receive these queries are frequently very busy and it may be weeks or sometimes months (more typically four to five weeks) before we receive the final response.

For regular projects, we begin following-up on the unanswered queries in a week from the date of the enquiry letter.  For rush projects, our queries will include an appeal to help us meet a specific deadline. We will endeavor to contact the copyright holder by e-mail, fax, and telephone. Where copyright holders request a permissions fee we will negotiate on your behalf to keep this as low as possible.

3) Compiling a permissions file, containing all correspondence from copyright holders, along with any special provisions for reproduction of material

As we receive responses and we will update all the details in the permissions log, including reprint fees, rights restrictions, copyright notices and source credits, complimentary copy requests, wording of acknowledgment and requests for changes to the reprinted material or book content.

Throughout this process, we keep the client closely informed on our progress.  We submit updated permissions logs at intervals depending on the project size and urgency.  When we’re getting close to our deadline, we document the full record for all items, including those for which we have received no response from the legal copyright holder.  In those cases we will document at least three attempts to contact the copyright owner. We also provide a paper trail further detailing what we’ve done to track the item, what companies were contacted, who we spoke to, what they said, and any other information which may be pertinent. 

Finally, when each project is completed, we submit a complete permissions file for the project that includes a copy of the permissions log, all permissions contracts and any invoices for reprint fees, a credits list, a complimentary copies list, and any other special documentation requested by the publisher.  We also keep a copy of each finished project on file for future reference.  If a project file is ever lost or destroyed, please contact us so we can send a replacement copy for your records.


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