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.
1. Do I own the copyright in my thesis or dissertation?
Yes. However, upon submission of your thesis or dissertation, you will be required to allow the University of Regina Library to post your thesis or dissertation in oURspace, the University of Regina's institutional repository, as well as permit Library and Archives Canada to preserve and make your thesis available on the Internet and searchable databases. These licences clearly stipulate that you own the copyright to your thesis or dissertation, but that you have allowed "non-exclusive" use of your thesis to the University of Regina Library and Library and Archives Canada.
2. I am writing a manuscript-style thesis. What do I need to know about copyright?
3. Do I need copyright permission to put an image (e.g., photo, maps, diagram, figure) in my thesis or dissertation?
Up until the time that your thesis or dissertation is added to oURspace, the University of Regina's institutional repository, it is considered a private research paper and images can be used without permission as long as they are properly cited and adhere to the university’s Fair Dealing Guidelines. However, once your thesis or dissertation is distributed through the oURspace, permission from the copyright holders of any images or figures used in your thesis or dissertation is required.
4. How do I determine who the copyright holder is and how do I go about getting permission from them?
The University of British Columbia's copyright website (see the "How to Obtain Permission" section) includes useful information for grad students about how to identify copyright holders and where to go to request copyright permission. The earlier that you can start the permission request process, the better, as copyright holders can be difficult to find or get a hold of and sometimes they take a long time to respond. If you require any assistance, please feel free to contact the Copyright and Scholarly Communications Librarian.
5. 5. What if I’m not granted copyright permission in time or the copyright fee being charged is too expensive?
If permission is not granted in time for you to submit your thesis or dissertation to oURspace (or if the copyright holder is asking for a fee that you decide not to pay), the image(s) for which clearance/permission was not received must be removed from your thesis or dissertation before it is submitted to oURspace. In the space where the image was removed, you would then add a statement indicating that the image was removed due to copyright restrictions and include an image description and full citation where the image can be found. Here is an example statement: “Figure 3 has been removed due to copyright restrictions. It was a diagram of the apparatus used in performing the experiment, showing the changes made by the investigating team. Original source: Wu, G. and Thompson, J.R. (2008) Effect of Ketone Bodies on Dairy Cattle. Biochem J. 255:139-144.” (This example citation was retrieved from The University of British Columbia’s copyright website, CC BY-SA 4.0)
6. Are there any types of images for which I don’t need to acquire copyright permission to include them in my thesis or dissertation?
Copyright permission would not be required for including the following types of images in your thesis:
7. What about copying text into my thesis or dissertation? Do I need permission for including quotes in my thesis or dissertation?
With regard to copying text into your thesis or dissertation, permission should be acquired for use of long quotations or excerpts. A short quote that you would include in the body of your text would not require copyright permission and a block quotation would not necessarily require permission. There is no exact word count that is the maximum amount of text that could be used before permission is required. It would be advisable to err on the side of caution and seek permission for long quotations. If you are unsure about what constitutes a long quotation, you can consult with your thesis or dissertation advisor and the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. Your citation style guidelines (e.g., APA, MLA, etc.) may include helpful information on this as well.
Content on this site has been adapted from the University of Saskatchewan Copyright website “Thesis Frequently Asked Questions” and is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence. Based on information from the University of Manitoba copyright website and the University of British Columbia copyright website.
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.
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.