Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.
Courtesy of Adirondack Editing
Sharing Content, Copyrights, and Permissions – Part 2
In the previous post (54), we talked about “repurposing” other people’s content on your blog or in your book. We covered why it’s not very nice and followed Blogger G around while he thought of lifting some bullet points off an informational article/blog post he found. Today, we’ll move forward with actually asking for permission to use those bullet points.
So, how do you get permission and from whom do you need to get it? In this case, the site Blogger G’s bullet points are on is not owned by the author, but another company: The Alliance of Independent Authors. They have provided an email address at the bottom of the page. How nice of them! In this case, then, it’s very easy to shoot them a quick email to ask permission. Of course, you’ll need to give them 2-4 weeks to respond, so this means planning ahead somewhat. You are more than welcome to use my example below and modify it for your own purposes:
Dear Sir or Madam:
Regarding the article entitled “5 Ways Pinterest Can Help Authors” by Karen Lotter, published on February 8, 2014, at this URL (insert URL), I would like permission to quote the three bullet points under the subheading “Smart Pinning Rules and Regs” on my own blog, “Fantastical Thoughts By Blogger G.” The topic of the blog post that would include the three bullet points is on marketing self-published books with Pinterest. My blog is located here (insert URL) and I would credit Ms. Lotter with authorship and include a link back to the original article on your site. The anticipated date of publication on my blog is (insert date).
Please let me know if this is acceptable to you and whether or not I should also contact Ms. Lotter directly.
Thank you for your consideration.
Blogger G, The Fantastical Thought-Producer Himself
See? It only takes five minutes (and a little forward thinking) to send a quick email to ask permission before…ahem…repurposing someone else’s content.
Frequently there is not a helpful email link at the bottom of the original article and you have to go searching for someone to ask permission from. On larger websites, you can usually find this under “Legal” (which might be on, or at the bottom of, the “About us” page) or the “Terms of Service” page. Occasionally you might be forced to use a fill-in “Contact us” form.
For one-person-owned blogs, you can usually find an email address somewhere on the blog itself, but you may need to use a search engine to look for other social media sites belonging to the author to find contact information—in which case you’d need to re-read my excellent two-part series on researching: (part one (48)) and (part two (49))!
Even if you think the material you’re “borrowing” is short enough that there is no need to ask permission, you should at least credit the author and give a link back to the original material. When I want to quote blog material and ask for permission to share it (and the link), no one’s ever said no. Actually, I think they’re probably stunned that anybody bothered to ask for permission!
If you’re planning on using the material in a for-sale book, keep in mind that the original author may request a small fee or a percentage of your sales in exchange for your SELLING their writing. This is normal and completely appropriate. If you can negotiate a fee rather than a percentage, it will make your life much easier.
Next week we’ll discuss ‘Shoulda Woulda Coulda’
This series is not meant to be (nor will it be) simple static information.
I’ll be here for each post to answer questions, offer suggestions as necessary, and interact with you.
If there’s something you specifically want (or need!) to see addressed in terms of self-editing, please let me know in the comments under this, or any of the articles of the series.