As soon as a work is created it is protected by copyright whether in print or electronic format. This is designed to protect the rights of authors, including yourself. Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1981, copyright of a work is held by the creator. Authors submitting theses for examination are required by the Research Degrees Programmes and Examinations Board to sign a statement acknowledging both ownership and the right to be identified as the author.
In the process of researching and writing a thesis, it is essential that authors take the issues of copyright into consideration. Generally no permission is necessary for the following use of:
- Copyright expired materials - Author copyright lasts for 70 years after the author’s death. If no renewal of copyright is made, the work is deemed to have fallen out of copyright and may be used freely, although still attributed. See the Copyright Information webpages for further details regarding copyright for research and study purposes
- A short extract of a work in order to critique or review it
- A short quotation from a published work. The use must be proportionate and fair, i.e. the extent should be justified by the context
- Material which is licensed for your intended use e.g. under a Creative Commons licence.
Traditionally it has been accepted that third party copyright material can be included in the print version of a thesis without seeking permission, although it is considered good academic practice to do so. However, this is not the case where the thesis is available online and copyrighted material is reproduced without permission.