Chapter 20 of NHR deals with copyright. It is the author’s responsibility to obtain permission to use any copyright material within their work. The Society of Authors has published some useful advice on the subject (PDF).

However, whilst the concept of “fair dealing” does, in theory, allow short quotations to be used without permission, it is always advisable to seek permission nonetheless. The Publishers Association issued the following advice (PDF):

Previous industry rules of thumb that extracts of up to 400 words are somehow “safe” are now misleading and positively dangerous. The only safe general rule is that quoted by one judge many years ago: “If it’s worth copying, it’s prima facie worth protecting.”

The scope of copyright exceptions that were introduced to UK law in 2014 (such as for quotation or parody) has not yet been tested in court, so it is not possible to provide examples of what would constitute fair dealing. Bear in mind, also, that your book will almost certainly be published overseas in addition to the UK, so copyright exceptions available under UK law cannot necessarily be relied upon.

Therefore you must obtain permission from the copyright holder to use any material, no matter how short, including poetry, prose and images, and forward copies of letters or emails granting permission to us. You might find it helpful to maintain a spreadsheet detailing the location, rights holder, extent and request status of any third-party extracts used in your manuscript. When requesting permission for shorter extracts of prose, the following wording may be useful:

Dear Publisher, I wish to quote X words from Title of Work in my forthcoming book Title of Book, to be published by Sacristy Press as a paperback and e-book. Please could you confirm that this falls within fair dealing.

Biblical extracts can usually be quoted without seeking permission if they fall within certain thresholds, so long as copyright statements are included on the imprint page; details can usually be found on the publishers’ websites. The exceptions to this rule are the Authorised Version (King James Version) and the Book of Common Prayer, both of which are protected under Crown Copyright and will require written permission for use from the Crown’s Patentee, Cambridge University Press. If you work includes biblical quotations, please advise us which version(s) are quoted when you submit your manuscript.

If in doubt about permissions, ask us. We will do our best to help obtain permissions where possible, especially if rights-holders are not forthcoming within a reasonable period of time or can’t be located.

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