I am currently writing a proposal for my research topic and I want to copy figures from published articles into my proposal document. To put it in perspective, almost all the copied figures are to go in the “Literature review” section of the document.
Is it necessary to send an email to each and every author requesting permissions to copy the figures, even though complete citations and references are included? I referred to the following link:
MITLibraries: Reuse of content in thesis. From what it says, copying images in thesis (with correct citations) seems to be valid under US copyright law.
I created an account on copyright.com and using the same I was able to get permissions for more than half of the figures for which I needed to do so. This way is particularly useful for students in the United States as there's now one place where most of the requesting and granting can take place. The experience is like shopping from an online website (they literally have a shopping cart) and in general the process was more convenient than I had thought what it would be.
For a subset of the remaining papers, where the publisher was the copyright holder, I emailed the publisher and I was able to get a response in less than a couple of working days. This was true for a few papers from Europe and the UK. For the papers where the holder was the author, I emailed the author. For all figures for which I didn't get a reply or I got a reply which quoted a significant cost for reusing the figures, I simply removed the figures from my literature review.