The safest route to using copyrighted work is to obtain permission from the copyright holder. With permission, you may be able to use the entire work or to use it ways not allowed by fair use.
There are 3 ways to approach requesting permission:
Contact the publisher - If the work you want to use is a published work (book, article, etc.), it's probably best to contact the publisher directly
Collective rights agencies - Some fields have central offices to facilitate the permission request process. See the list of major collective rights agencies.
Contact the copyright holder - If a work has not been published or commercially released, try to determine the author/creator and contact that person directly.
As you prepare your permission request letter, be sure to include these elements:
Here are few examples of frameworks for permission requests:
Sample Copyright Permission Request
K-State Office of Academic Personnel
Sample Letter Requesting Permission
Office of General Counsel, University of Texas System
Even with a thorough search, there may be cases where you are not able to determine the copyright owner in order to request permission or the owner may not respond to your request. In such cases, you will need to assess the risk involved in using the work without permission. While it is possible that a documented search for the copyright owner would lessen the damage award if a court determines there was an infringement, there are no cases establishing a precedent for this issue. In such cases, the University recommends adhering to the use allowed under the principles of fair use or not using the work at all.