Do I Need Permission for That?

Do I Need Permission for That? with Dr. Kelly Figueroa-Ray. $25 class. Saturday, September 26, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern

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Learn how to stay out of legal trouble when using other people’s work

Is it OK to use that song lyric in your memoir or novel? Will that one line really get you into trouble?

What about chapter epigraphs that quote celebrities? Does that require permission?

What if you paraphrase a work instead of directly quoting it?

Can you mention or link to a site without permission?

If you’re working on any kind of article or book that quotes another work, or incorporates someone else’s ideas, sometimes crediting the source is not sufficient. You have to seek written permission. But knowing when and how to seek permission is not always straightforward.

On Saturday, Sept. 26, this 60-minute live class, taught by Dr. Kelly Figueroa-Ray, will help you identify and evaluate permissions issues, provide a research guide for how to seek permissions, and discuss a variety of work-arounds for when permission cannot be obtained.

When writers realize that they need permission to use content, navigating permissions for that content can be one of the most frustrating parts of getting published. This class will alleviate that frustration by introducing you to important foundational knowledge of copyright and the concept of fair use as they pertain to mainstream/trade publishing and self-publishing. You’ll also understand how to seek permission when necessary and what you can do to avoid seeking permission when it’s too costly or time consuming.

You’ll learn:

  • When to start the permissions process for your book or publication
  • How to reduce your risk of copyright infringement
  • How to identify what kind of content is free to use without permission
  • How to find content that is free to use or in the public domain
  • How to determine if your use of content falls within fair use guidelines
  • How to research rights holders
  • What information is needed for a basic request for permission
  • What to do when you cannot contact the rights holder
  • How to decide when it’s time to hire an attorney

Please note: This class is not for writers seeking professional legal advice and is not meant as such. For legal advice about copyright or intellectual property issues, please contact an attorney.

Who should take this class

  • Any self-publishing author: The last thing you want to receive is a cease-and-desist letter from a publisher, agent, or a lawyer. Learn how to avoid such worst-case scenarios and protect yourself.
  • Any author seeking traditional publication: Just as everything is moving toward publication, you may experience an unpleasant surprise: the editor has flagged several quotations and photographs as having potential permissions issues. Most publisher contracts put the burden of securing and paying for permissions on the author.

How do I know if this webinar is worth the cost?

This is an important question, and it’s a tough one to answer—especially since so much online education is available free of charge. Furthermore, every student is different, and a valuable webinar for one person can end up being a disappointment to another. For this reason, we offer full refunds if you register, attend the entire class, and fail to get the information you were looking for. Please email us directly to request a refund.

Do I have to attend the live class?

No. Everyone who registers will get access to the recording. However, if you’d like to attend live, keep reading.

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology. You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 10 minutes of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Saturday, September 26, 2020
  • Time: 12 p.m.–1 p.m. Eastern Time / 9 a.m. Pacific Time
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Rev’s automated closed caption service, which is about 80%+ accurate. For students joining the class through the Zoom app on a mobile device, you can disable the closed captions by going to your settings and turning off closed captions.

About the instructor

Kelly Figueroa-Ray earned her Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia in the Scripture, Interpretation & Practice Program and is a co-founder of Copy Write Consultants (CWC) along with Christopher Hoffmann. CWC grew out of Grad Student Freelancers in order to expand the work with clients in the areas of permissions, agent/publisher research, editing, and other forms of author assistance.

Kelly has more than ten years of experience working on book and archive projects and navigating the use and attribution of copyrighted material. In addition to working with Jane Friedman, she has also worked with Charles Marsh (Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer) and Vanessa L. Ochs (The Passover Haggadah).

Kelly’s thorough citation evaluations have been essential to our permissions-seeking process on several projects. Her detailed reports aided us in determining which citations were low risk and which ones needed permissions.

Girl Friday Productions

publishing service company

When my editor told me that I had to start writing permission letters for the 72 endnotes I included in my book, I called Kelly for wisdom. 

Jorge Acevedo 


Kelly gave me some very specific and concrete guidance on copyright issues relating to a book I’m writing. It was tremendously helpful and I feel relieved and informed now. I’d recommend her to anyone concerned about permissions.

Sophie Waghorn


You’ll receive the following

  • Access to the 60-minute interactive class. After 45-60 minutes, Kelly will take questions using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 60-75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to get a recording of the presentation.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Supplementary handouts: After the class, you’ll receive a permissions evaluation form, a permissions research form, a sample permissions request letter, and a list of resources.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.

System Requirements to Join the Webinar

We will be using Zoom webinar technology.

You’ll need:

  • An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
  • Speakers: built-in or USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth

Recommended bandwidth:

  • 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
  • If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)

Supported operating systems:

Supported tablet and mobile devices:

  • Surface PRO 2 running Win 8.1
  • Surface PRO 3 running Win 10
  • iOS and Android devices
  • Blackberry devices

Supported browsers:

  • Windows: IE 11+,  Edge 12+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+
  • Linux: Firefox 27+,  Chrome 30+

For a detailed listing of system requirements, check Zoom’s site.