Information ServicesCopyright

If you use extracts of other people's work, you must get their permission to do so. This is especially important for theses made available digitally.

If in doubt about whether you need to get permission to use material, it is always best to err on the side of caution and assume that you do.

Seeking permission

To seek permission you need to contact the rights holder (e.g. the author, publisher, illustrator etc) in writing. You should ask for a warranty that the person giving permission has the authority to do so, and keep copies of permissions given for future consultation.

You can use JISC's template as the basis of a letter or email to the rights holder.

If the rights holder does not reply immediately you may choose to contact them again. A lack of response is not permission for you to go ahead.

Students will not be penalised if they cannot gain permission because:

  • permissions are not granted, or
  • it would be too onerous or too expensive

When permission is or is not given

If you have permission to reproduce material in your thesis, you should indicate this as necessary. For example, by writing at an appropriate point 'Permission to reproduce this ... has been granted by...'.

If you cannot get permission for one or more pieces of material, you may only be able to make an edited version of the thesis available online. In extreme cases, you may not be able to make your thesis available online at all.

In either case, it is still mandatory to submit a digital copy of your thesis which is an exact copy of the print version. The problem will be how much of that thesis may be made available online. In these cases, you have two options:

  1. Deposit two copies on CD-ROM/memory stick: one the full version with all third party retained, and a second edited version with this material removed. The edited electronic version will be made publicly available, and the full version will not.
  2. Deposit only the full version with third party copyright material retained on CD-ROM/memory stick. This copy will not be made publicly available, if we are informed of this requirement prior to the point of deposit.

Details on copyright ownership and exceptions can be found on the IS compliance pages.

University policies

It is University policy that responsibility for copyright issues resides with the Head of your Department. Talk to your supervisor to find out what your department’s position is and if they take a particular line on the issue of copyright in theses. You may also consult experts within the University to seek further guidance.