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making your thesis legal

Bennet Jones
Research Support Librarian

order of events
Theses, third party material and online publishing
Shortcuts: Creative Commons licences and open

Getting copyright permission
Some FAQs

Adapted from The Battle of Copyright by Christopher Dombres, CC BY 2.0

theses and online publishing

Electronic theses
have increased usage
facilitate access to your research
are more discoverable, e.g.

through Google
are among the most downloaded
items in the UWE Research

Stepping in theses by Jeffrey Beall, used

under CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted from original

3rd party material and copyright

Your thesis may include 3rd party material, for example:

Illustrations or images
Figures or tables
Maps or charts
Your own material which
has been previously

3rd party material and copyright

You MUST get permission to use this material before
the thesis is published online!

The material in question is in the public domain
The material is covered by a Creative Commons licence

creative commons licences

A creative commons (cc) licence details the circumstances
under which work may be re-used.
BY by attribution (original source and author must be cited)
SA share alike (the work this is included in must also be shared

under the same CC licence)

NC non-commercial (the material cannot be republished or shared
in an item which is sold or otherwise used commercially)
ND no derivatives (the material cannot be changed, paraphrased
or built upon)

We recommend you use material covered by a creative

commons licence where possible!

finding cc-covered material

We recommend you use CC Search (

finding cc-covered material

Find a CC-covered picture of the Clifton Suspension
Bridge. Prove that it is definitely covered by a CC licence,
and identify which one.

Remember, finding an image through CC Search

doesnt guarantee it is covered by a CC licence!

Adapted from Clifton Suspension Bridge by Gothick, CC BY-SA 3.0

some tips and shortcuts

To avoid having to get copyright permission:
Use material covered by a CC licence wherever possible!
CC Search is a useful resource for finding CC images
For maps, use (free to use as long as

you credit OpenStreetMap and its contributors)

Check if material is out of copyright or in the public

for everything else

Getting copyright permission for material in your thesis is a
two-step process:

1. Get permission from the rights holder

2. Make the necessary attributions within the thesis

getting permission
Four simple steps

Identify the rights holder

Formally request permission to include item
Keep records of all correspondence
Repeat request after six weeks if you havent heard anything

identifying the rights holder

The rights holder is usually the publisher.
You should contact the publisher in the first instance.

requesting permission
For many publishers getting copyright permission is a

reasonably straight-forward process

In other cases you may need to email the publisher
Remember to mention which item you are seeking permission to

Explain that you are seeking to reuse it in your thesis
Include a short background to your need (UWE regulations,
electronic publishing of thesis on UWE Research Repository, etc)

dealing with rights holder responses

Read the licence or email
Does it give you permission to use

the item in the way you have (e.g.

Are there any conditions

You must only use material by the
terms set out in the copyright

Adapted from small print by Aden Davies, CC BY-SA 2.0

when conditions are a problem

Some rights holders may charge a fee
Others might refuse permission outright

If the material in question is integral to your

thesis, but you encounter the above
problems with getting copyright permission,
then you should apply to the Graduate
School to get the item redacted from the
Open Access version of your thesis.

making attributions in a thesis

It is not enough to get permissions for 3rd party material
you must also make the appropriate attributions.
Attributions should be
made directly below the
reused material

like this!

Adapted from Angry Old Lion by koorosh B, CC BY 2.0

making attributions in a thesis

Check licences in case it is a condition that you use

particular wording in your attribution

If no particular wording is stipulated, then write:
Used with permission of the [author/publisher, as appropriate]

Items covered by a Creative Commons licence must be

by giving appropriate credit
by indicating if any changes were made
by providing a link to the human-readable version of the licence

making attributions in a thesis

All figures and tables should have an attribution, unless:
You have created them yourself
They are in the public domain (though you may indicate that the

material in question is in the public domain)

the perfect student researcher

will get permissions for 3rd party material as s/he goes along
dont leave it too late getting permissions can be a stressful process

will use the material only as set out in the licence

e.g. material has not been adapted if the licence prevents it

will make the appropriate attributions within the thesis

directly below the material in question, in line with licence specifications if

Adapted from A researcher working with delicate resource at The National Archives, by The National Archives, CC BY 3.0

what we wish to avoid

I had no idea that it would be
an issue and only decided at
the last minute to include [the
figure]. Oh dear.

Can you specify which figures are

in breach of copyright please. It
would save me substantial time
trying to contact authors that are
not relevant.

I hope you can understand that I

want to get through the viva first,
and pass, before I consider
pursuing copyright material. I
also haven't got a clue how to
find out!

Can I just remove all of those

images if that is easier? Or do I
have attempt to get copyright

some frequently asked questions

I want to use a diagram from a journal article in my
thesis. Does Fair Dealing cover me for this?

some frequently asked questions

I cant locate the rights holder

Ive not been given permission

to adapt an image which I have

The publisher wants to

charge me for using third
party material in my thesis

Ive been refused permission for

an image


some frequently asked questions

If possible you should substitute the image for one where

you are able to get permission, or which is CC-covered

This should be done before you submit your soft-bound

If this particular image is essential, you will have to apply

to the Graduate School to get it redacted from the final

published version.

Email the Graduate School:
Your case will be taken to the Research Degrees Award

Board (RDAB)
You must show that you have made every effort to obtain

the necessary copyright permissions

thanks and questions