Frequently Asked Questions

Permissions Home | FAQ | Application for Permission

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General Information

What are Permissions?

Permissions are licenses that grant you the right to use a portion of copyrighted material in another work. A “use” might entail reprinting a chapter from a Harvard University Press (HUP) book within another book or posted on a website; incorporating an Emily Dickinson poem into a poetry anthology; reproducing an illustration within a textbook; and so on.

What sorts of uses are handled by the Permissions Department?

The Permissions Department handles any request to use any portion (e.g., text excerpt; lines of poetry; illustrations; book covers; etc.) of HUP material in another work, like a book, a blog post, a radio broadcast, musical setting, art installation, and so on.

What uses are not handled by the Permissions Department?
If you are seeking to… You should:
Reprint portions of a work in a periodical for publicity purposes, either before or after the work’s publication Contact the Publicity Department
Use portions of a work in a teaching setting (e.g., course packets and electronic reserve) Apply directly to the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC)
Access or adapt a work into an alternative format for use by those with print-related disabilities Try first at Bookshare. For a more comprehensive answer, see Alternative Formats below
Reprint a work in its entirety Contact the Subsidiary Rights Department
Translate a work in its entirety Contact the Subsidiary Rights Department
Record an audio version of a work in its entirety (i.e., an audiobook) Contact the Subsidiary Rights Department
Dramatize or perform any portion of a work Contact the Subsidiary Rights Department
Publish an abridged version of a work Contact the Subsidiary Rights Department
Does HUP provide a research service?

We do not provide a research service.

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Things to Consider before Applying

How do I know if Harvard University Press is the rights holder to the material I would like to use?

First—verify that the material you are requesting comes from a book that was published by “Harvard University Press” (instead of, for example, Harvard Business Publishing or Harvard Magazine, who have completely separate publishing programs).

If the title page of the book you are inquiring about says “Distributed by Harvard University Press” on behalf of an academic department or museum at Harvard University, please direct your permissions inquiry to that department. (For example, books in the Harvard East Asian Monographs series are published by the Asia Center.)

Second—for any excerpt, passage, or portion that you wish to use, confirm that the material has not been incorporated into our HUP text from another source. If the material has been quoted or incorporated from elsewhere, seek permission from the rights holder (publisher) of that source, rather than Harvard University Press.

Finally—for any figures, tables, maps, or illustrations that you wish to use, confirm that the content is original to the HUP volume. These elements frequently come from another source, such as an individual photographer, research institution, or another publication. There will usually be a credit line on the same page, or in a list elsewhere in the book. If a figure, table, etc. belongs to another source, please contact that individual or institution directly.

Do I need to apply for permission? (Can you tell me if my proposed use is “fair use”?)

Unfortunately, we are not able to advise you on fair use. Determining whether a particular use is “fair” is the responsibility of the individual or publisher using that material. More information about fair use can be found at:

If, after your research, you have determined that you will need formal permission, please prepare the required information to complete the application form.

May I edit or adapt HUP material for my use? (For example, I would like to redraw the figure appearing on page X of your book, Y.)

In order to protect the integrity of copyrighted material, we do not authorize any adaptations, modifications, redrawings, or other changes to our content.

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What publication details will impact the fee for my license?

Fees are calculated according to the scope of your project. We take into consideration the following when assessing an application:

  • Which HUP material is being used
  • The amount of HUP material being used
  • How much HUP material makes up your project
  • The number of formats being prepared (hardcover, paperback, eBook, etc.)
  • The number of languages you are requesting
  • How many copies you intend to distribute (How many people will access the material?)
  • Whether and how your use will be monetized

We do not take into account the territory and, unless otherwise noted, will always grant world distribution rights.

Does HUP provide price quotes?

Due to the high volume of applications received and processed by the Permissions Department, we are unable to provide “quotes” or cost estimates and can consider applications for permission only in cases where full publication details are available for review. We therefore recommend that you apply only when you are reasonably certain that our material is needed.

What about a fee schedule?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide a standard fee schedule as each book and each proposed use is carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

What forms of payment does the Permissions Department accept?

The Permissions Department currently accepts the following payment types:

  • Checks drawn against a United States bank
  • ACH bank transfers
  • Wire transfers
  • Credit card, including VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Diner’s Club, and Maestro

We will provide an invoice with payment instructions if a fee is due.

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Submitting an Application

What information will I need to have available in order to complete the application form?

The following information is required to complete an application:

  • Information about the Harvard University Press book
    • Full title of the HUP book, including the work’s edition, if applicable (e.g., revised edition, second edition). (Note we do NOT need the title of your source book, if it is anything other than an HUP book.)
    • Full name of the author(s), editor(s), or translator(s) of the HUP book
    • If using text excerpts: opening and closing words and their respective page numbers for each continuous excerpt
    • If using illustrations: a title, caption, or figure number for each illustration, along with page number(s)
    • If using lines of poetry: each poem’s title or number, as well as the first quoted line and the last quoted line
  • Information about YOUR project
    • Name of your publisher
    • Title of your project (e.g., book title; journal title; art exhibit title; movie title, if the HUP book in question is to be used as a prop)
    • Your project’s edition, if applicable* (e.g., revised edition, second edition, enlarged edition, student edition)
    • Your project’s author(s), editor(s), and/or translator(s)
    • Your project’s tentative publication date
    • Your project’s length (page length, duration, etc.)
    • Your project’s formats (e.g., hardcover, paperback, unenhanced eBook, public website posting/online publication, audio download, streaming audio, theater prop, etc.)*
    • Your project’s first printing run/circulation, per format (if applicable to your format)
    • Your project’s expected lifetime circulation, per format
    • Your project’s price, per format (if applicable)
    • Your project’s language (default is English)**

* Editions or formats that are abridged, expanded, or otherwise altered from the main work you describe are considered different uses (not just different formats) and they are subject to separate review and pricing. Please complete a separate application for any variants from your main use (e.g., a student edition).

** Harvard University Press does not grant permission for “all languages.” Requests for languages other than English are considered on a case-by-case basis and may require use of an existing translation.

How do I apply for permission?

All permissions applications must be submitted via our online application form.

I have my own permissions license that I would like HUP to sign. How may I submit it to the Permissions Department?

As a matter of policy, the HUP Permissions Department does not sign third party agreements. If the Permissions Department grants you permission, it will issue you its own license with its own standard terms and conditions.

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What to Expect after You’ve Applied

How can I be sure that my application has been received and is being processed?

When you successfully submit an application, you will receive an automated confirmation email that contains a complete copy of the information you submitted. No further action is required on your part.

How long will it take to receive a response?

Licenses are issued in the order in which full and complete applications are received. All efforts are made to issue a license or a formal response within 6 weeks of our receiving your application. If we notice anything amiss with your application, we will respond sooner, within 2 weeks of our receiving your application—but note again that the clock starts only once your full and complete application has been received. Please plan accordingly when applying for permission for your project.

How can I expedite my application?

Due to the high volume of applications received and processed by the HUP Permissions Department, we are unable to expedite any application. Please do not try to contact the HUP Permissions Department, as it will actually delay us from responding to you and to others. We ask that you plan accordingly when applying for permission for your project.

How can I check on the status of my application?

Due to the high volume of applications received and processed by the HUP Permissions Department, and in the interest of fairness to other applicants, we ask that you do not try to contact the HUP Permissions Department to check on the status of your application. Licenses are issued in the order in which full and complete applications are received. All efforts are made to issue a license within 6 weeks of our receiving your application. If we notice anything amiss with your application, we will follow up sooner, within 2 weeks of our receiving your application. Please plan accordingly when applying for permission for your project.

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Making Changes after You’ve Applied (but before You’ve Been Granted a License)

I submitted an application, but I realized I need to make a change. How do I submit changes to the HUP Permissions Department if I haven’t yet received a response?

If you have submitted an application that you have immediately recognized as needing a correction, please resubmit your full and complete application, being sure to choose “A replacement for a previous application” in the first question. In the Summary of Corrections field, indicate clearly that this is a resubmission of an application already submitted and supply a concise description of why you are replacing your previously submitted application.

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Alternative Formats

How can I get an HUP work in an alternative format for use by those with print-related disabilities?

Digital copies of HUP titles suitable for use by students with print-related disabilities can be obtained through our partners:

If you’re located in… You can contact…
United States Bookshare
Learning Ally
AccessText Network
Canada AccessText Network
United Kingdom RNIB Bookshare

Titles not currently available on their lists can be requested by special order through their respective websites.

For individuals who rely upon the accessibility features of a consumer eBook-reading device, all HUP eBooks have Text-to-Speech enabled. HUP eBooks are available for sale at many popular eBook retailers.

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Emily Dickinson

Who controls the copyright to the poems of Emily Dickinson? Is Emily Dickinson’s poetry public domain? What about Emily Dickinson’s letters and manuscripts?

The copyright status of Emily Dickinson’s poetry is quite complex, as most of her poetry was published posthumously, in batches, and some poems have gone through several revisions. A handful of bowdlerized versions of her poems were published during her lifetime (and are thus public domain), but the bulk of her poetry, restored to its original presentation as seen in her manuscripts, wasn’t published until the 1920s and later.

At present, Harvard University Press controls all permissions and rights to the text of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, letters, and manuscripts, including poetry and letters that appear in other publishers’ editions. Consequently, all applications to quote or reprint Emily Dickinson material should go through the Harvard University Press Permissions Department. Images of handwritten letters and manuscript pages belong to the respective libraries that own those archives.

When assessing requests for Emily Dickinson material, we will let you know which selections are public domain and which are still under copyright and subject to license.

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