Reproducing third party illustrative materials

If you wish to include illustrative material that contains material within or belongs to someone else, in your article, you must either: a) obtain permission from the copyright owner first and pay any required fees; b) follow the required processes for reuse in line with the STM Permission Guidelines (where applicable); or c) be able to rely on a copyright exception for the use. Illustrative material can include, but is not limited to – brands, diagrams, figures,graphs, images, photos, pictures, videos or tables.

Permission must cover any way that BMJ distributes the article, through subscriptions and via third parties (such as document delivery organisations, aggregators, repositories and Pubmed Central).

You must also confirm that you have included a copyright notice and/or acknowledgement(s) identifying the source and rights holder (and as required by the rights holder) within the illustrative material(s).

Where the granting of permission are the grounds for your reuse (as opposed to relying on a copyright exception) , BMJ will require you to show written evidence of the permission granted to you by the rights holder with dates mentioned for the reuse. This may be in the form of a stand alone document or an email from the publisher/rightsholder.If you are relying on a copyright exception, you will be asked to explain why you believe this applies.

Additional checks will be undertaken where any identifiable individuals are shown in any illustrative materials.


Use of third party text /quotations

If you have included any text owned by a third party, please confirm this has been identified and referenced correctly. If a copyright exception does not apply, please confirm that written permission has been obtained or you have followed the relevant requirements for reuse under the STM Permission Guidelines (where applicable), so it can be used in the article by BMJ and authorised third parties. If you are relying on a copyright exception, you will be asked to explain why you believe this applies.


Advice on acquiring permissions and STM Publishers

BMJ like many STM Publishers are signatory to the STM Permissions Guidelines. This means BMJ has a reciprocal arrangement with other STM signatories (publishers) that allows BMJ authors to obtain quick and cost free or discounted permission licences when using certain figures, tables, images and text from journal articles published by other STM Permissions Guidelines signatories. Each signatory publisher has specified their requirements . Please see the guidelines for further information and make sure you also read the current embedded guidelines.

The quickest way to acquire permission from most STM publishers is to use their RightsLink service. Go to the webpage of the article from which you wish to reuse content and locate the Permissions link. You can then fill in the online form for instant permission and by entering ‘STM Signatory’ and ‘BMJ’ as the publisher of the new work in the Rightslink process this should enable free or discounted access.

If you have any questions around acquiring valid permissions please email


Reproducing material published in a BMJ Journal

If you wish to reuse content from a BMJ Journal in your submission to BMJ please email and we can confirm copyright ownership. If we do not own the rights to the content we can point you in the right direction for acquiring permission.


Last updated: August 2022