Copyright and other legal issues: Your essential guide

If the work is to be published Open Access you must still request permission for this use.

Missing copyright permissions are the biggest source of delay to publication. It is vital to clear permissions well in advance of the manuscript submission deadline and keep accurate records to ensure timely publication.

As with journal articles, it is the book or chapter author’s responsibility to clear permission for any work in copyright contained in the book (for both print and ebook formats) and to settle any fees which may arise as a result.

This guide outlines Edward Elgar Publishing’s policy on copyright and our requirements for permissions clearance. It also covers essential information for authors about plagiarism, libel/ defamation and using personal data. It provides best-practice guidance and not legal advice.

Editors must also confirm with chapter authors that they have cleared permissions and complied with these other legal requirements.

Fair Dealing/Fair Use

According to the UK Intellectual Property Office, ‘Fair dealing for criticism, review or quotation is allowed for any type of copyright work. Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of reporting current events is allowed for any type of copyright work other than a photograph. In each of these cases, a sufficient acknowledgement will be required.’ In practice, much depends on the source material and the quantity and type of the material you wish to use as well as its position within the text (see epigraphs). This rule only applies to academic text for the purpose of academic critique and comment. Non-academic material, such as song lyrics or poetry, and illustrative material such as figures and tables are not covered by fair use. 

As a rule of thumb, permission to reproduce an academic text is generally required if a quoted extract exceeds 400 words, or a collection of extracts from the same source exceed 800 words. The citation should encourage the reader to seek out the original material, its use shouldn’t make reading the original redundant. Permission must be sought from the original publisher as well as the author(s) of any published material if in doubt. All material should be clearly attributed and a full reference given to the original source.

Plagiarism and Self Plagiarism


Authors, editors and contributors have an obligation to ensure that all the original work (including the text, ideas, data, research findings, ideas and hypotheses etc...) presented in a manuscript is their own work, and that their prior writing and the work of others is fully acknowledged.  Following good academic practice is all that is required to avoid plagiarism issues.  

Accusations of plagiarism are serious and, whether deliberate or accidental, can have a detrimental impact on the academic reputation of the person accused.  We take plagiarism seriously and will always take immediate action to investigate complaints and remove a publication, or part of a publication, from sale if necessary.
The risk of accidental plagiarism is greater where projects have involved a number of researchers over a period of time. Extra care should be taken to ensure that all participant have been recognised for their contributions.
Our full policy is available at the below link and includes links to universities offering guidance and training resources on plagiarism.



This is defined as a form of plagiarism in which the writer republishes some or all of a piece of their own previously published work without appropriate acknowledgement. Plagiarism software can make self-plagiarism far easier to detect and recent examples abound of academics being held to account or prosecuted for self-plagiarism and of careers being ruined as a result of it.

What Do I Need Permission For?

Using your own previously published work

You are not necessarily free to publish a previously published piece of your own work again without consulting the original publisher. You should refer to your original agreement to check if permission needs to be cleared and be sure to cite your work correctly whether permission is required or not (see self-plagiarism). 

Publishers should grant permission to re-use your own work, potentially subject to an embargo period. Please note that some publishers charge a fee for use of your work in a book edited by a third party and a few publishers will charge for use of your own work in a book written or edited by yourself. Please check your contract regarding who is responsible for any costs incurred.  



An epigraph is a short quotation positioned before the start of the main text of the book or chapter and are not covered under ‘fair dealing’. We strongly recommend that epigraphs are not included and unless you are able to confirm the epigraph is out of copyright or you have permission from the copyright holder (usually the publisher), we will remove these from the manuscript. 


The Internet     

The Internet is subject to the same copyright laws as printed works. Please assume that permission needs to be sought for any material sourced from the internet unless expressly stated on the webpage that it is in the public domain. It cannot be assumed that the website owner/author is the copyright holder. Information can usually be found regarding the copyright holder in the small print of the website. Images taken from the Internet are not in the public domain unless expressly stated and can be too poor quality to reproduce in a book.


Open Access and freely available material

Simply because work has been made freely accessible to readers does not mean that copyright has been waived, or that the work is in the public domain. Please check the terms of the publication license for any open access or freely available material (e.g. Wikimedia images) as commercial reuse may be prohibited or restricted and permission may need to be cleared. Full citation should always be given. 


Poetry and song lyrics

Such text of any length is not covered by the ‘fair dealing’ rule and permission can prove very expensive.


Figures, tables, maps and illustrations

Permission is required for any tables, diagrams, maps or illustrations copied from published sources, which includes material posted on the internet and screenshots. Acknowledgement of source, author and publisher must be made.  Original tables and figures with information drawn from other sources do not need permission but sources must be acknowledged.



Permission may be required from the original photographer, the owner of the photograph, anyone who is in the image and the owner of any private building, object or artwork in the photograph before including it. An acknowledgement must be made in the text below the photograph. 


Translated material

If you have translated material yourself or used a third-party translation above the length allowed under fair dealing you will need to obtain permission from the original-language publisher if you have translated it or from the publisher of the translation you have used.


New editions

Permission is often granted for a single edition only. If you are preparing a new edition of a book please check and re-clear any necessary copyright permissions.

How Do I Seek Permission? General Advice and Online Copyright Clearance

It is usually possible to obtain copyright permission using simple online systems.  When requesting permission to use material, you should request permission for print (hardback and paperback) and electronic editions of the book, as well as world language rights. If the Elgar work is to be published Open Access you must also request permission for this use.

Some permission requests, (including work originally published by Edward Elgar Publishing), may be handled through the Copyright Clearance Centre ( or PLSclear (  For artwork you may need to apply via and if you are struggling to find a copyright holder this site may be of use:

You need to be able to demonstrate that you have made a reasonable attempt to seek permission and so, if you do not receive a reply to your initial letter, you cannot presume that you may proceed with using the material. You should ensure you have contacted the copyright holder by email or letter at least three times and keep a record of all attempts made to gain permission. If you still do not receive a response please ask your editor for advice.

If permission is refused or the fee charged is unreasonably high you may wish to appeal against the decision by writing again to the copyright holder. However, if your application is ultimately unsuccessful you have no alternative but to remove the material from your chapter.


Template Permission Letter


If you require a draft permission letter, please find one below, which can be amended as necessary. 



                   Permissions Coordinator,


I have been invited by Edward Elgar Publishing to contribute a chapter in the book ".........................................." edited by


I am writing for permission to use the following:



xxxxxxxxxxxxx by xxxxxxxxxxxxxx published in xxxxxxx (2020)


I hope that you will grant me non-exclusive rights to use the above in both print (hardback and paperback) and electronic formats as well as world

language right. I will of course include the normal form of acknowledgement to the original source of publication. I would be very grateful if you

would sign this letter as confirmation of your permission to use this material as soon as possible.


With many thanks for your assistance.


Yours sincerely.











Permissions Log



Copyright Permissions or Previously Published Material in your Work

Copyright acknowledgements should appear with the text, figure, table etc. that has been reproduced. Copyright holders often make the position and wording of the acknowledgement a condition of granting permission, so please follow their requirements carefully.

Information for Editors

If your book is edited, it is vital that you also now pass these guidelines on to your contributors. The Contributors Agreement also makes the obligation of the contributors regarding any copyrighted material in their own chapters clear.  Please ensure that they return their agreements to you. 

Before you accept their final chapter, please ensure that each contributor has confirmed that all permissions have been cleared.  If any contributors raise copyright queries that you do not feel confident to deal with, please let us know as soon as possible.

Privacy and Data Protection of Research Subjects

To comply with the very strict European personal data protection laws (GDPR) any personal data – including case studies, photographs etc. – about living individuals used in your work must be anonymized, or written consent from that individual must be obtained and you should keep good records of this. If consent is not realistically possible then please contact us for advice.

Please also refer to the Research Ethics section below.

Libel and defamation

You have agreed in your contract that your manuscript will not contain anything libelous that may be the cause of litigation. Please ensure that you do not make any defamatory or injurious statement or implication about living persons, institutions or other organizations that could result in libel claims. It is no defence against a libel action that a defamatory statement has been previously published. If you have any questions about this please consult your commissioning editor who will take legal advice if necessary.

Research Ethics

In addition to the potential legal issues related to publishing, failure to follow good ethical practice in research and publishing may lead to reputational damage, sanctions by an individual's institution and withdrawal of a publication. This is particularly important where research includes interviews with individuals or case studies and should be considered in addition to the legal requirements in the privacy section above.

Most research funding bodies have resources to help researchers navigate this topic such as this webpage on the ESRC website

Policy on the use of Open AI tools in manuscript preparation:

  1. The use of Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT, Google Gemini, or Claude to generate substantive content, such as the analysis of data or the development of written arguments, is not permitted.

  2. If authors choose to use Assistive AI tools to assist in their research for a book, chapter, or article, they must disclose this in the manuscript and on submission. An author's final written text should be their own and reflect their own ideas, arguments, and conclusions, and for this reason AI and LLM Models may not be listed as an author.

  3. The publisher reserves the right to verify the use of Generative AI and to reject manuscripts that violate this policy.

  4. Use of AI should in no way invalidate the warranties the author provides in the publishing contract including ownership of copyright, originality and factual accuracy. It is worth bearing in mind that in highly specialised research areas Generative AI tools draw from a small number of published sources and there are real risks of unoriginality, plagiarism, copyright infringement and factual inaccuracy.

  5. This policy does not refer to spell and grammar checking tools (such as Grammarly) which may be used without acknowledgement.