Locating Copyright Holders

Before you use any copyright work, you should always seek permission. Tracking them down may take some effort, but the tips below should help.

  • Contact the publisher

    If the work has been published, particularly if the publishers are still trading, this is a good place to start.

    The publisher should certainly be able to tell you who to contact for permission, and they may even be able to get permission for your directly themselves. However, if it looks like your luck is out, press the publishers for the details of the licensing body (if any) who will collect royalties on behalf of the copyright owner.

  • If the author is deceased...

    Copyright will still apply for up to 70 years after death, and are normally passed on with the deceased's estate and inherited by the next of kin. Again your first point of contact would be the publisher (if any), but contacting the next of kin would be a good next step.

Organisations which may aid your search

  • Writers

    The Book Trust
    Book Trust, Book House, 45 East Hill, London, SW18 2QZ
    Provides information about authors, and a search facility to locate authors and their publishers.

    Scottish Book Trust
    Holds information on writers living in Scotland

    WATCH(Writers, Artists, and Their Copyright Holders)
    Database containing contact details for copyright holders whose works are held in UK or US libraries and archives.

  • Musicians

    MSPS / PRS
    The MCPS collects and distributes royalties generated from the recording of music. This income is distributed to their members - writers and publishers of music.

    British Music Information Centre
    Searchable database of classical composers and publishers.

    Band Name
    Worldwide band name registry, with on-line searchable database.

...And finally

Once you obtain permission, get it in writing!! That way there can be no possible comeback.