Excuses for Not Obtaining Copyright Permission


8 Excuses for Not Getting Copyright Permission

We have all heard excuses for not obtaining copyright permission prior to using a copyright-protected work. We may even have uttered some of the excuses set out below. Do you have a favorite excuse or one not mentioned below? Please share it by adding a comment at the end of this post.

I found it online.

  • Not all online content is in the public domain. Always assume that online content is protected by copyright.

I was in a hurry.

  • Nothing in copyright law allows use without permission just because the consumer/user is in a hurry and must get a document to print or to include content in slides.

My boss told me to copy it.

  • If your boss didn’t provide you with a written warranty that s/he will be liable if you get caught infringing, this may be the time to stand up to your boss.

I’ll never get caught.

  • So you know you should be obtaining permission. Everyone thinks they will never get caught…until they do.

It’s for education.

  • Not all uses for educational purposes fall within an exception in copyright law.

It’s for internal use.

  • Whether you are using content internally or publicly, you still need to obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has a Creative Commons license.

  • A CC license does not mean free; the content is subject to the terms and conditions in the CC license – read the license and see what’s allowed.

I emailed, called, faxed and snail mailed the copyright owner but never received a reply.

  • This does not exonerate you from copyright liability. Unless the copyright owner provides permission, you may not legally use the content.


  1. Chris Barton says:

    “We didn’t have any money allocated in the budget for photos.”

  2. Linda Tanaka says:

    It’s under 500 words and our company has set that as a level for free use and we will not pursue permission.

  3. Lesley says:

    That’s a great one too, Tanya, thanks!

  4. Tanya says:

    My personal favorite is “We own it, we don’t need permission” Great list Lesley!

Comments are now closed for this article.

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