How to get permission to re-print or re-use someone else's article

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I have been involved authoring many documents, written a good number of manuals published within the federal government and I have used and posted articles from other sources. Getting permission to use, reference articles, and/or the work of another is fairly easy.

Most authors and "information owners" are happy to see their work exposed to as wide an audience as possible, within reason. You might meet with a brick wall if you were to ask for permission to post nearly every article that a woodworking magazine, were to put out. But I would bet that if you wrote to the magazine or person responsible for the article(s) on "Metalworking on the ShopSmith", chances are pretty good that permission would be granted.

As I said magazines and authors want their work to get around, it's good marketing for them. An occasional article like the one mentioned above is great advertising for that magazine and would introduce it to a whole new audience. That is how they might view it. It also helps if when asking for permission you point out benefits like that. Also, this is easier with articles and work that had been published months or years prior. If the issue is still on the stand you might want to wait a couple months, otherwise they may see it 'not as good marketing from an old article' but as 'cutting into their potential sales'.

All you need to do is write a letter (or e-mail) to the author or magazine, I think you'll find that most are fairly responsive but it may take a couple weeks. Simply explain what you want to re-print/web publish, why you want to do this, that you will give them full credit for the article, point out any benefits for them (increased exposure to a new audience for example), where you intend to publish it and by all means start out with complementing them on a good piece of work. Assure them that the article will be presented in a positive light.

Once permission has been granted than all you need to do is make a note "reprinted by permission of ______" and retain the letter in a safe place. In a case of a BBS, internet website or user group; the person up loading it should send a scanned copy of the letter or copy of the e-mail granting permission to the SYSOP, webmaster or user group administrator.

Don't be taken back if permission is not granted, it happens occasionally. I have also seen sources that wanted payment or a "fee" in this case (unless I REALLY need their information intact) I usually thank them for their time and pass on the opportunity. Never burn a bridge; don't get insulted and don't insult.

It's really not that much work; just write a letter, add a note denoting permission and keep the response letter in a safe place. It really is that easy.


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