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Copyright and quotations - guide for Writers.



Ideas are copyright-free, so are facts for the most part, but if you use anybody elseís form of words or images, beware!

In Europe and in many other parts of the world, copyright extends for the lifetime of the originator and for 70 years thereafter. Any work published after an authorís death is protected for 70 years from the date of publication. And Ďpublicationí means simply producing a work. Even personal letters are automatically copyrighted Ė the recipient owns the letter but the form of words belongs to the writer.

Quotation without permission is possible in works of criticism. You can use up to 400 words in a single extract or you can quote up to 300 words at a time provided that you donít use more than 800 in total. For poems, youíre allowed up to 40 lines as long as this is less than a quarter of the piece.

Very short quotations can usually be used without permission but itís always safer to ask. If in any doubt, seek out the owner of the copyright. If they are difficult to trace, keep a record of your efforts.

Fees vary but you may be asked to pay up to £150 per thousand words unless you can plead special circumstances such as scholarship or a low print run. Argue your case! Ė itís by no means unknown for copyright owners to waive fees entirely.

Donít be daunted! Itís all manageable.

Identify the owner of the rights
Try to contact them
Negotiate!


If the costs are prohibitive, bear in mind that you can usually get away with a paraphrase rather than a direct quotation.

Need more information? Go to www.patent.gov.uk/copy/ - the official government word! Ė all you need to know and useful links to copyright organisations.

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