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Copyright Quick Tips - Including Others' Work in Your Presentation

Last reviewed March 2008

You are preparing a presentation. The purpose of the presentation is educational. You are not benefiting financially from the presentation. The target audience is made up of members of the academic community, be they faculty, staff, or students. In doing the research for your presentation, you come across the perfect paragraph, table, photograph, or illustration to bring home your message. You don't believe you can improve on the effectiveness of this way of expressing a concept, and you want to use it without alteration. Here's how:

  • You may use a small portion of another's work for an educational purpose. "Small" cannot be defined quantitatively. Your judgment is required. A small part of a seventeen-syllable haiku poem is one short word. A small part of a 500-page book may be a one-hundred-word paragraph. One drawing from an article containing 15 drawings might be considered a small portion, while a table summarizing the key points of an entire article is probably too much intellectual property to use without permission.
  • You must credit the source of the portion used via a citation complete enough that a member of your audience can locate the source document for further information. You may not omit this information for aesthetic reasons.
  • You must show any copyright statement that accompanies the portion in the original. You may not omit this information for aesthetic reasons.
  • You should limit the use of the portion to your presentation itself. Do not include others' intellectual property in your handouts unless you have the copyright holder's permission to distribute multiple copies of the work.
  • You should limit the use of the portion to a single event. If you wish to use the same portion in a series of lectures, or you plan to give the same lecture to several audiences, you need the copyright holder's permission to do so.

For more information about copyright in the university setting, UT Southwestern Library recommends the following UT System resources:

A template for a request for permission follows.

Sample Letter Requesting Permission
To Use a Portion of Another's Work
In Your Presentation


Permissions Department
[Address: call Library for this information]

Dear Permissions Editor:

I am writing to ask your permission to include the following in a [series of] presentation[s] I will be giving for an audience of [##] [faculty members/graduate students, members of a professional society] on [dates and locations].

[all authors]
[article or book title]
[journal title]
[volume ##] [issue ##] [page ##s] [date of issue]
[specific paragraph, table, drawing, or photograph]

Please indicate your approval of this request by signing and returning one copy of this letter using the enclosed stamped, self-addressed envelope. If you do not solely control copyright for this article, I would appreciate any information you can provide about other to whom I should write, including most recent addresses if available.

[Author's name]
[Author's address]

Copyright Holder's Permission