I am now in panic. One of my paper got accepted by journal. However, I am stuck with the copyright from two figures I have used in my research paper. These two figures ( these two from open access internet source and free to the public). I just simply thought that I will acknowledge/reference their organizations in my paper and that's it. After I read the copyright requirements from journal, I realize that I need to write and ask for permission from third parties. I already write emails to them but it might take a long time or even they don't answer my email. In there website, it is said that :"All materials that appear on ADB's official website, adb.org, are its exclusive property unless otherwise indicated. ADB encourages users to print, download, or copy information, documents and materials from the website exclusively for personal and non-commercial use".

my research paper is now in the production stage ( pass all review processes) and needs the last step of proofreading.

Is there any chance that I remove these two figures from my accepted manuscript? Or what should I do now.

I know it's my mistake and this one is my first research paper, I don't have any experience in publication. Please help me , I really appreciated for your advice.

  • 1
    I am not an expert once I've used two figures from NASA and togheter with the editor we found out that basically a citations was all that was needed. I can't judge if commercial use extend to the profit that the journals are making. I would check with the editor, as well as try to contact the source. At the end, a proof read paper doesn't necessarily has to go public. Of course redrawing is possible by mentioning it.
    – Alchimista
    Feb 17 at 16:53
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    "I realize that I need to write and ask for permission from third parties." That's the answer. Feb 18 at 10:30

Normally, this is something you would normally arrange before the submission. There may be no perfect solution at this stage.

Deleting figures from an accepted manuscript is not advisable, as it may make your conclusions unjustified. Normally, journal's won't allow significant modifications after the review.

However, a few ideas to consider:

  1. If figures are simple sketches, you can make your own and submit them.
  2. If figures are plots, you can redraw/reproduce them.
  3. Depending on the copyright laws in your country and copyright policy of the publisher, you may be able to reuse a small portion of text/figures from the original publication under a fair use policy.
  • Thanks so much for your answer, Mr. Dmistry. Can I email to people in charge of production stage and said that I make a small change of two figures by redraw them? Is there possible? I really appreciated for your help and wish you all the best
    – Phu Thao
    Feb 17 at 16:49
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    Normally, it is a good idea to inform both your editor and your publisher (production team) of changes, explaining the reasons for the change. They may suggest another solution, e.g. acquiring a copyright for you, if they think it is worth it. Feb 17 at 16:51
  • You probably need to cite the original figures even if you don't use them but draw your own, as plagiarism is also a possible issue.
    – Buffy
    Feb 17 at 16:58

I suggest that you inform the editor immediately of the problem. Some publishers will act on your behalf to obtain (and possibly pay for) copyright license. It is worth an ask.

But the editor needs to be informed in any case. Don't delay. You would need their permission to delete as it may affect the readability of the paper.

And the solutions suggested by Dmitry Savostyanov may be open to you of course.

  • good answer. These things happen all the time. Let the Journal help you get what you need. No reason to panic, and no reason to eliminate figures.
    – HEITZ
    Feb 18 at 8:02

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