I've seen some review papers use images from other articles under the 'adapted from [ref]' description while most others use the standard 'reproduced with permission from [ref]'. Does the former not require asking for permissions from the original publisher? If I redraw images by my own, is it sufficient to simply cite the reference at the correct places and not ask for permissions?

Also, pardon me for the stupid question, but if I ask for the permissions to reproduce a large set of images from a variety of different publishers for my review paper which is to be published in a particular journal X, and for some reason they reject the review; do I need to ask for the permissions again before send the manuscript to another journal Y?


In short:

In a review paper, you can reproduce parts of the articles you are reviewing, with proper citations.

In long:

Redrawing and reproducing images are different issues. The answers may vary in according to each country law, but I'm trying to give a general outline.

Information is free while its creative expression is protected by copyright. Therefore, you can take information from published images and draw your own, just as you can take information from an article and write your own text including that information. The resulting image is your own work, and the need to cite your source is mandatory in academia because of intellectual honesty, not because of copyright. However, your image wouldn't be your work if you had copied creative elements of the original work, just as a text is not your work if you copied sentences from someone else's work.

In the other hand, there are situations where you are allowed to reproduce other people's works. In the United States, fair use doctrine apply when limited reproduction of a work is justified and it doesn't cause an unfair prejudice to the copyright owner - copying for review purposes would fall into this category. Other countries have a more restricted right to quote which allows the cite of a part of a work for critics, review or discussion. Usually this right is extended to images and review papers would perfectly fit its purpose.

  • Thank you for your input, especially the longer explanation. – Stargazer Dec 2 '18 at 14:46
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    Do you know this from experience? I have been told that images are treated differently, essentially each being considered a separate item, so fair use does not allow you to reproduce them. – Andrés E. Caicedo Dec 2 '18 at 15:20
  • Not from experience with reusing images in academic articles, but yes from experience with reusing images under fair use in Wikipedia. The fact that each image is a separate issue doesn't affect fair use, but you have a point that "limited" reproduction may prevent you from reproducing the images with more quality than strictly needed for reviewing purposes. – Pere Dec 2 '18 at 15:30
  • @AndrésE.Caicedo - However the question would benefit from an answer from anybody else with more experience in this context. I tried to do my best when I saw the question had sit unanswered for 11 hours. – Pere Dec 2 '18 at 15:33
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    The publisher of the review will most likely require you to request the permissions prior to publication and hand them in. And yes, you need to get a new permission, if the image shall be published somewhere else. I'd suggest to contact your library. Several have a copyright service and will assist you in requesting the permissions. – FuzzyLeapfrog Dec 2 '18 at 21:47

Usually the journal you are submitting to, will have instructions (even a form with legalese).

If it is just for your thesis, I don't think you need to be hyper legalistic, but ask for permission for the intended use (in your thesis). Email is sufficient (don't need a signature, but don't rely on word of mouth either. If part of the thesis ends up becoming an article later, just go back at that time and ask for the fuller permission using the journal's advised form or instructions.

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