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How To Request to Use Copyrighted Material

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If you would like to use copyrighted material, follow this sample request to obtain permission.

Instructions for Permission Letters by Snail Mail

  1. Include your return address, telephone numbers, and date.
  2. Confirm the exact name and address of the copyright holder. You may wish to call the person to confirm.
  3. State clearly the name of your university and your dissertation or thesis title.
  4. Describe the proposed use of the copyrighted material clearly. If necessary or appropriate, attach a copy of the quotations, diagrams, pictures, and other materials. If the proposed use is extensive, such as the general use of an archival or manuscript collection, describe it in broad and sweeping terms. Your objectives are to eliminate any ambiguities and to be sure the permission encompasses the full scope of your needs.

Instructions for Permission Letters by Email

In addition to the above steps, make sure the individual providing the permission is properly identified in the email message to you.

Sample Letter Request

[Return address or letterhead]


[Name & address of copyright holder]

Dear [Name],

I am completing a [doctoral dissertation or thesis] at Stanford University entitled [Title]. I would like your permission to reprint in my dissertation excerpts from

[Citation or description of original work].

The excerpts to be reproduced are: [describe excerpts or attach a copy].

My dissertation will be produced electronically and made available through the Stanford University Libraries and its publication partners. 

I am requesting permission to include the excerpts in current and future revisions and editions of my dissertation [or thesis], and to grant others the right to reproduce my entire dissertation [or thesis], including the excerpts described above, for educational, non-commercial purposes. These rights will in no way limit republication of the material(s) in any other form by you or others authorized by you.

Your signing will verify that you own [or your company owns] the copyright to the above material(s).

If this meets with your approval, please sign this letter below and return it to me in the enclosed return envelope. Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.


[Your name and signature]

For an individual, include:

Permission granted for the use requested above:


[Type name of addressee below signature line]

Date: __________

For a company, include:

Permission granted for the use requested above: [Type name of company]

By: ____________________

Title: ____________________

Date: __________