Getting Permission to Use Someone Else’s Words

What do you do if you found that a poem you had written ended up in someone else’s book?

This poem is your intellectual property—you wrote it, you own it. Only you can give permission to use it.

Getting permission today is easier than ever before. You can do an Internet search for the person, their company, book, photographs, quotes, and speeches. Copyright laws require that you get written permission to use any copyrighted words. That person does not have to give you permission, and can even charge for you to use them.

Always be careful not to use someone else’s words verbatim as if they are your own thoughts.

If you are really concerned, have an intellectual property attorney review your manuscript on the issues that concern you.

Ask for permission in order to protect yourself. Never assume the other person would think it an honor if you used his words. If you publish a book and have used copyrighted material without permission—and the person you’ve quoted finds out, it could cost you a lot of money or even have your books taken out of circulation. Question is: how deep are your pockets if you are sued?

Some places to learn about how to get permission are online. I Googled “getting permission to use quotations” and numerous websites came up, so I suggest you do the same and become educated about permissions.

Better to be safe…than sorry!