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Graduate Students

Like most people, grad students are both creators and users of copyright-protected works. For example, you own the copyright of your thesis or dissertation; a project that likely incorporates some portions of the copyright-protected works of other researchers. You may also be involved in providing instruction, where you will also make use of others’ works. For assignments, permission is generally not necessary before including a quotation, diagram, table or figure from another source in your work. Your use must be fair and reasonable and be sure to include proper attribution. However, your thesis and instructional work are different than standard assignments.

Thesis Frequently Asked Questions


Being aware of copyright in the classroom is just as important as in your written work. Whether you are preparing slides to accompany a lecture, planning to show a video in class, or creating content for an online course, there are limits to what you can copy for educational use as an instructor. The copyright in the classroom page for faculty has information about using copyright protected materials when you are working in an instructional capacity.

Infringement and Plagiarism

In academic work, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Plagiarism is an ethical offense, which includes use of someone else's work without providing proper attribution and passing it off as your own. Plagiarism does not necessarily include copyright infringement, although it can be used as the basis to charge someone with copyright infringement.  Even though copying one sentence, for example, from a short story or an online article is legal under copyright law, it may still qualify as plagiarism unless the source has been adequately cited

Copyright infringement is a legal offense, which involves the unauthorized use or distribution of someone else's creative work, which can include writings, songs, video clips, movies, visual art, or other creative works, and is punishable under federal law. Taking a copyrighted work and making changes to it creates a “derivative work,” which would not be considered a unique work and also would not provide you with full copyright ownership. Properly citing a source avoids plagiarism, but not copyright infringement.

The text of this page was adapted from the University of Saskatchewan, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.