Obtaining permission to use a copyrighted song can be expensive, as music companies are free to license their works to whomever they wish and they may deny permission outright or charge any amount they desire. Before you begin to draft a request letter, you should have a firm understanding of how you will use the copyrighted material. Without an exact description of how you will use the material, your request will be denied.
Determine what music company, publishing company or organization holds the copyright you are interested in licensing.
Find out if the company you intend to request permission from has a specific form for copyright requests. Many large companies have their own request form and will not respond to a request letter that is not in their format.
Draft an introductory paragraph explaining who you are, who you are affiliated with and why you are seeking permission to use the copyrighted work.
Specifically identify the copyrighted material you wish to use, including the title, the author, the date of publication, the album and the specific version of the song in question. State whether you intend to use the entire song or just a specific portion. If you want to use a portion of the song, identify that portion by time signature.
Explain where the song will appear -- in a movie or television show or on the Internet, for example. Explain exactly how you will use the work. If you are using the song in a movie, state which portion of the movie the song will appear in.
Tell the music company how many copies of your work containing the copyrighted material will be disseminated. Also explain how many people will have access to your work and how long you intend to use the work.
Explain whether your use is for profit or not. Tell how you intend to credit the copyright holder for use of the work. Describe exactly what type of license you want from the music company. Licenses can be exclusive or non-exclusive and they can also involve royalty payments.
Notify the music company if you have any deadlines and request a response by a specific deadline. Sign and date your letter, and include contact information.
You may wish to make an initial offer for compensation in your request, but it is better to allow the music company to make a demand first.
Copyright requests are often denied, so you should plan to use an alternative song if your request is denied.
Louis Kroeck started writing professionally under the direction of Andrew Samtoy from the "Cleveland Sandwich Board" in 2006. Kroeck is an attorney out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania specializing in civil litigation, intellectual property law and entertainment law. He has a B.S from the Pennsylvania State University in information science technology and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.