FAQ: Copyrights and coursepacks
What does the year on a copyright notice mean?
For our books, the year on the copyright notice reflects the expected date of first publication at the point when the final prepress work is done. Because production schedules at printers can change, the actual publication date may be off by a month or two in one direction or another. (A book intended for January 2000 publication may come out in December 1999 or vice-versa.) This means that the year on a copyright notice may be off by one year for a book coming out around the beginning or end of a year.
The copyright notice on our web pages indicates the date of first publication of the page in its current form. When we make a significant change to a page, we update its copyright notice.
Who owns the copyright on a work published by Cascadilla Press?
In a collection of papers published by Cascadilla Press, such as a conference proceedings, the authors generally own the copyright on their individual papers. Cascadilla Press owns the copyright for the book as a whole. In a single-authored work, Cascadilla Press generally owns the copyright for the work. There is a copyright notice on everything we publish which clearly states who the copyright owner is.
We are much more flexible with copyrights than most publishers. We only ask authors to grant us the full copyright to their work when we feel that it is necessary to protect our investment in the work. When a non-exclusive grant of publication rights is sufficient, as in a conference proceedings, we want authors to keep the primary copyright on their work. That makes it easy for authors who later want to publish articles and books which build on the work originally published through Cascadilla Press. If an article is identical or very similar to a version which was first published by Cascadilla Press, we ask that the author cite the article's prior publication in the first footnote (along the lines of "This article was first published in Proceedings of the 24th annual Boston University Conference on Language Developement, ed. S.C. Howell et al., Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press").
Who should I ask for permission to quote from a book published by Cascadilla Press?
In most cases, nobody! We strongly support the doctrine of fair use, which is designed to protect free expression, academic discourse, and scholarly progress. If you need to quote from a book in order to discuss an idea, reanalyze some data, or write a review, you should not have to ask for permission. You should cite the original work appropriately, of course.
Can I include part of a Cascadilla Press book in a coursepack?
That is usually fine. You can ask us for permission for anything published by Cascadilla Press. (If the copyright notice on an article says the copyright belongs to the author, you can choose to ask either us or the author for permission.) As is customary, we charge a small fee for each copy made. Coursepack requests should be sent to:
P.O. Box 440355
Somerville, MA 02144
Will Cascadilla Press pay copyright fees on behalf of authors?
No. Like most publishers, we leave responsibility for copyright fees with the authors. Keep in mind that some uses of copyrighted material are fair use, and do not require permission from the copyright holder.
What is fair use?
Fair use is a legal doctrine in the United States allowing the use of copyrighted material in certain situations. Those situations are not clearly defined, and there is a tremendous amount of misinformation available which purports to define fair use clearly. Here is what the law says:
Section 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a
copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or
phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes
such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple
copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement
of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any
particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a
commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the
copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the
None of these four factors is determinative by itself and, as you can see, there are no clear percentage guidelines. No single factor can make a particular case fall under fair use or not.
The most common situation which authors ask us about involves including a small portion of a work in an academic paper or book to be published. If you want to include a cartoon from the newspaper in order to entertain your readers or liven up your paper, that is not fair use. If you need to use a small amount of a copyrighted work in a scholarly paper in order to make or support your argument, the amount that you are taking is a small portion of the original work and is the minimum that you need to use in order to properly make or support your argument, and your work would not be viewed as a substitute for the original work in the marketplace, then we believe it is clearly fair use. The academic arena has been the first and foremost arena where fair use rights are widely recognized, and scholarship should not be held hostage to the whims of copyright owners. Otherwise copyright fails in its stated constitutional intent "to promote the progress of science and useful arts."
We do not recommend that authors ask copyright holders for permission in fair use situations. Asking for permission is taken by some publishers as an admission that you do not believe your use falls under the fair use guidelines. If you want to ask permission as a courtesy in a fair use situation, we recommend that you say in your cover letter that you are asking permission as a courtesy and reserve the right to use the material in question under fair use guidelines.
We cannot tell you if a particular use of a copyrighted work is definitely a fair use or not, and we cannot provide legal advice. As an author, your opinion is far more informed than ours is about why you are using the copryighted work, how much of it you are using, and the likely effect on sales of the original work. Your university's legal office or counsel's office should be able to give you advice about specific situations.