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I am currently checking proofs for a Springer article. The editor has asked us to provide permission details for all figures.

One of the figures is a screenshot from a software product, as found in the front page of the product's website. We use it to exemplify typical interfaces found in these types of products, and cite the site that it was taken from. With a bit of work we could re-generate the same image by downloading the product (its free, but supported by a for-profit company) and adding in sample data.

Since the screenshot is promotional material by the company, must I contact the company to request permission to use it in our paper, given that attribution is already correct, or can I already claim fair use due to its status as "promotional"? Re-creating the screenshot would also rely on fair use, according to this answer.

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    It's good practice to always ask. – Ander Biguri May 10 '16 at 15:17
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    Doesn't seem like your choice. The editor has asked you to seek permission, and that's that – Scott Seidman May 10 '16 at 15:27
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    @ScottSeidman The editor has asked for "permission details for all figures". For most, we will reply with "we made this figure ourselves". For this one, we can either reply "fair use", or wait a few weeks until the site replies to what should be a pro-forma request. – tucuxi May 10 '16 at 16:26
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    The page you copied is probably copyright.. and asking the company would waste less time than asking on this forum. – Peter K. May 10 '16 at 17:23
  • @PeterK. It is, without doubt, copyrighted. I have already asked for permission, but have not heard back. This question here is to ask fellow academics for best practices in what is probably a common scenario. – tucuxi May 11 '16 at 8:04
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It doesn't matter if the material is promotional or not. It doesn't matter if the material is freely available or not. What matters is copyright. You have to ask if you want to use copyrighted material.

On a different note, the company may really be unhappy if you use a screenshot which might be of bad quality (at least it's a pixel image) instead of a high quality, tailor made (possibly vector graphics) image for that purpose.

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As the editor requires you to, it would be better to sought the permission from the site and cite the same on your paper. You may also include the caption

"Courtesy of X [citation]" or "Included with permission [citation]"

along with the figure so that the permission aspect would not be questionable.

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Yes, most definitely, if you have used an image that is from a companies website then you absolutely have to get their permission. Unless they have released it under a Creative Commons licence then you need their permission to redistribute it.

You could probably call them and they'd tell you right away if it was okay or not (which under those circumstances I'd be almost certain it would).

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