How do I secure permission to use copyrighted material?
Determine if permission is needed
There are two considerations in determining whether you must seek permission
1. Is the material protected by copyright law? There are many items in the Public Domain that do not require permission to use. The Public Domain Slider might assist you in determining whether a work is in public domain.
2. If the material is, indeed, protected, does your proposed use fall within Fair Use. Typically, educational use by a non-profit institution or in research, scholarship, or teaching leads to favorable Fair Use assessments. However, you should use a tool like the Fair use Evaluator and the Exceptions for Instructors eTool to both help you in your assessment and document your "good faith" effort.
If the work is part of a book or a journal article and for coursework, check the JMU Copy Center first. The copy center is already working with the the Copyright Clearance Center ("CCC") who offers electronic and photocopy based transactional (case-by-case) permission services.
If your use is not for class readings or the like, visit Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office Permissions page for an excellent set of pages that can walk you through the complex issues of permissions.