Copyright and Your eThesis

Making your thesis available as an ethesis has a number of benefits for you as the author and for the University as a research institution. However, there are copyright implications that you must be aware of.

Copyright is a form of legal protection for an author/creator which restricts the copying of an original work they have created. For more information, please see the Copyright Basics Study Guide.

Using Copyright Materials

In your thesis it is very likely that you will need to include some material from an external source - such as a quotation from a text by another author in your field. This material will be covered by copyright. An author automatically has copyright on what they write/create - they do not need to apply for it or mark their work with the © symbol. The person holding the copyright is known as the rights holder.

The types of material covered by copyright that are most commonly used in research degree theses include:

  • long extracts of text from works by other people
  • illustrations or images from an external source
  • maps and charts - even if you have re-drawn these yourself
  • material of your own that has already been published elsewhere - for example, in a journal article

Once you have identified any copyright material that you have used in your thesis, you next need to identify whether you need to seek permission for its use from the rights holder(s).

Copyright and eTheses

The rules regarding the use of copyright material in your thesis are different for etheses than they are for print theses and you need to:

  • know what the differences are

and

  • understand what you need to do to ensure your thesis does not breach copyright law

You do not need to gain permission to use copyright material in the printed version of your thesis. This is because the thesis has been produced for the purposes of an academic examination.

However, you do normally need to seek permission for the use of copyright material in the electronic version of your thesis. This is because your ethesis will be available to the public through the web.

It should be noted though that the rules do vary according to the context in which the material has been used - for full advice please refer to the Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Copyright and Your Thesis Study Guide

Permission to Use Copyright Materials

You are responsible for obtaining permission from the rights holder(s) if this is needed for material you have used in your ethesis. When you submit the final version of your theses you are required to sign an Author Consent form that confirms that all required copyright permissions have been sought and obtained.

More advice to help you decide whether you will need to seek permission for the use of copyright material in your ethesis and on things to consider before you approach the rights holder(s) can be found in the Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Copyright and Your Thesis Study Guide and research students are encouraged to read this carefully. If you need further advice, please contact the University's Copyright Administrator.

When should I start thinking about copyright issues?

As soon as possible! The process of identifying copyright material in your thesis, locating the rights holder(s), and requesting and obtaining permission can take many weeks and sometimes longer. Remember that when you submit the final version of your thesis you need to confirm that all required copyright permissions have been sought and obtained. Failure to do this will mean that the award of your degree will be delayed. 

Research students are encouraged to start thinking about copyright issues and to take action as needed as early as possible.

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