Library Subject Guides

Thesis Guide: Copyright - what you need to know

Your Thesis, Your Copyright

Your work is your own.

Other than agreeing to a very limited licence with the University that allows us to place it on the University Research Repository (more about that below) the copyright of your thesis is your own.  There may be restrictions on some of its content, especially if you have studied something that includes somebody else's intellectual property, but you will be very aware of that if you have.  Otherwise you are free to publish, distribute or use your work in any way you like.

See the University Intellectual Copyright Policy for more information.

Work placed on the UC Research Repository

If you have included other people's Intellectual Property (IP) in your thesis, you can impose an embargo on your work, with the agreement of your supervisor, the Postgraduate Office and the University Librarian.  You will be asked to submit a Use of Thesis form when you submit, and the options are there.  The policy covering embargoes is in the UC Policy Library.  For works of a very sensitive nature please speak to your supervisor and the Postgraduate office for options.

The licence imposed on works published on the UC Research Repository is an "All Rights Reserved" one.  This limits readers to the rights they have under NZ law.  If you would like more information about that, please contact the author of this guide or a Subject Librarian.

Using Copyrighted Material In Your Thesis

It may not be OK to include your own papers! 

Including other peoples' work in your thesis.

Disclaimer: this is not legal advice, and if you have queries, you supervisor in conjunction with the University Library can help on specific questions.

A good rule of thumb is you can include a small part of another person's published work, as long as you attribute (reference/cite) it properly.  A short quote is fine.  Where this becomes more difficult is an image, graph, or poem.  These are regarded as entire works in their own right, and may require permission to reproduce.  This includes stills from films, photographs of paintings (even though the painting may be hundreds of years old, it is the photograph you must request permission to rebublish) maps, graphs, tables of data. Requesting permission is usually pretty simple, either by writing to the author, or the publisher.  Since replies can take some time to come back, it is a good idea to ask for them early in the process, when you decide to use the material.

In your thesis you may need to ask permission to use:

  • Photographs (even of non-copyrighted subjects)
  • Non published work (diaries, notes)
  • Maps & Graphs
  • Poems and other written work where you are including more than a small amount of any one work.
  • Data

 

Including your own work in your thesis

If you have published a paper in a journal, and you want to include it in your thesis, check your publishing agreement, or better still, write to the publisher and ask for permission.  Though it is your paper, once taken by a commercial publisher often rights to its reproduction are severely limited.  You may find you can only include a manuscript version in your thesis, or only a link to the publisher's website.  If you have submitted the paper to the UC Research Repository you can link to that version, and it is openly accessible - not just available to institutions with a subscription to that journal or database.

Again, if you have any queries, consult your supervisor, or library staff for guidance.

 

Protecting your Intellectual Property

The rules above also apply to anyone whow wants to use the information in your thesis.  The ideas can be freely re-used, there are no restrictions on the use of ideas, but the words, the photographs and the data are all protected.  (See Left, "Your Thesis, Your Copyright").

You may, however, want others to use your work, or your data, and not bother you for permission, but ensure that you are credited with its creation.  In many ways, this is how we expect academic work to be: available for thorough review and criticism (or praise!).

Creative Commons licences are a mechanism by which you can stipulate to what level others can use your work, and what kind of credit you would like in return.  By making your work more available, you can find that people use your work in unexpected ways, much as you used other's work to inform your own.  If you would like to apply one of these licences to your thesis or thesis data, please contact the Research Data Coordinator to discuss what options are best for your specific situation.

University Library
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140

Phone: +64 3 369 4888 (ext 94888)
Email
library@canterbury.ac.nz

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