Leeds University Library
Our website is changing

The Library website is changing. Our new website will go live at the start of semester 2.

Identifying and locating the copyright owner

Identifying the owner

In most cases the copyright owner of a published text at the time of publication is clearly indicated in the published work, usually on the back of the title page.

For a journal the owner will usually be the publisher; for a book, usually the author.

For anything published within the last 25 years, the publisher also owns the copyright of the typographical layout; if you intend to photocopy or scan a text, even if the author is long dead, you need the publisher's permission.

The copyright in images included in a published work or on a webpage is often not owned by the copyright owner of the accompanying article. This is usually indicated beside the image, or in a separate listing in the front or back of a book.

Locating publishers and rights departments

If the publisher is no longer in business

Locating known individuals who own the copyright

Authors of theses

  • The department in which the research was carried out may know the current address of the author and be able either to tell you or to forward correspondence
  • Many universities have an alumni office or equivalent which will forward letters to graduates for whom they have an address on file. For UK universities, use the Wolverhampton clickable map and select the "Alumni" option to find this office.

Academic authors in general

  • If the address given in the article is out of date, someone there may be able to give a current address or forward correspondence
  • Try to trace a more recent piece of work by the same author which may have an up-to-date address. A very general bibliographic tool such as Web of Science can be useful
  • The annual Commonwealth universities yearbook has an index of all staff of senior lecturer status and above in commonwealth universities.

Authors and illustrators in general

  • The publisher may be able and willing to pass on correspondence to the author/illustrator who owns the rights
  • A publisher of the author's later work may be able to help
  • The Society of Authors [UK] may be able to help
  • The Design and Artists Copyright Society may represent an artist or photographer
  • If the author/illustrator has an unusual name, try a search on the internet
  • The WATCH (Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders) website maintains a database of known owners of the copyright of UK and US creators and also has information on locating copyright holders.

Identifying unknown copyright owners

An individual may have assigned or bequeathed their copyright to another party.

The WATCH site also lists copyright holders who have been assigned or bequeathed the rights.