I need to use a figure from a published paper that is non open access, and copyrighted. What is the general advice for going about this? Do people tend to pay the fee for access to reproduce it? Or do you just not insert it into your preprint article? It would be difficult for me to not have it in my article, since it's the central framework I am using

  • Are you sure you need the figure? Can you not just cite it?
    – Bryan Krause
    Nov 17, 2022 at 17:25
  • @BryanKrause the figure represents the theoretical framework I am using, it would be difficult to have the paper without it, as the whole paper is based on using this particular framework.
    – qwerty6392
    Nov 17, 2022 at 17:35
  • 1
    "Do people tend to pay the fee for access to reproduce it?" Paying for legitimate access to an article is a separate issue entirely from having rights to reproduce figures from an article. You'll have to ask the copyright holder about reproducing their figure regardless of whether you bought access personally, viewed/downloaded it through a library with access, saw it on the researcher's personal website, etc. Nov 17, 2022 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


If you're determined to include the figure from this paper in your article, you'll have to get permission from the copyright holder to reproduce it. Some journals allow free licensing through the copyright clearance center marketplace - you should check that first. If that doesn't pan out, large publishers typically have a licensing, reprints, and copyright department that you may be able to contact with your request.

If you can't secure a reprint license through those methods, you can always make your own figure based on the same data or concepts.


The copyright holder of the figure has exclusive rights to reproduce (reprint in exactly the same form) or adapt (reprint a version with elements added/removed) the figure. Paying the fee to access the article does not confer copyright. If you want to reproduce or adapt the figure, you need to get permission from the copyright holder, or else you can't legally do so.

What you can do is redraw the figure. Copyright covers the particular expression of an idea, but not the idea itself. You can take the original figure of a schematic or workflow or whatever it may be, and produce a new figure from scratch that represents the same information.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .