Including Copyright Material
Copyright law prohibits reusing more than an insubstantial part of third party copyright-protected material unless you have the owner’s permission or your use is permitted by an exception in the legislation (Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988). If you are unsure whether the third party material you have used is copyright protected see the Copyright Basics guide for more information
An exception permits acknowledged fair dealing for the purpose of illustration for instruction for a non-commercial purpose. This includes examinations and covers assessed work, dissertations and theses. You may therefore include extracts of text, maps, photographs, tables, images, providing the use is fair and you include the name of the author and the title of the work. Use is likely to be considered fair if the amount copied is the minimum necessary and the use does not affect the rights owner’s exploitation of the work.
When the thesis is published online the exception of illustration for instruction no longer applies. You then need to obtain the copyright owner’s permission to use the material unless your use is covered by another exception. A further exception permits acknowledged fair dealing for the purposes of criticism, review or quotation. You may quote from literary and other works (eg musical, artistic, film) provided the work has been made available to the public, the use is fair, the extent of the quotation is no more than absolutely necessary and the use is acknowledged where possible. You may also copy and reuse portions of works for criticism and review provided that they have been made available to the public and the use is fair.
Seeking permission for third party material
These two exceptions are likely to cover the use of third party material in your thesis, but if you are unsure whether your use is legal, it is best to seek permission. Bear in mind that the copyright owner may already have given permission for your intended reuse, perhaps through the use of a Creative Commons licence or through a copyright notice attached to the work.
To seek permission for reuse you need to contact the copyright owner. This may be the author of a work, a publisher, an illustrator etc. In the case of material from books and journals your first course of action should be to contact the publisher. Many publishers give details on their Website of how to seek permission and who to contact. Look for information on rights/permissions/copyright clearance. If the publisher does not hold the rights to the work they should forward your enquiry to whoever does. Once you have established who to contact you can use the template below to form the basis of a letter or e-mail to the rights holder asking permission to include the material in the electronic version of your thesis.
If the rights holder does not reply immediately you may choose to contact them again. However, note that it is not safe to assume a lack of response as permission to go ahead.
What to do if permission is granted
If a copyright holder indicates that permission has been granted you should indicate this at the appropriate point in your thesis, eg 'Permission to reproduce this ... has been granted by...'. You should keep a copy of any letters or e-mails you received from rights holders.
What to do if permission is not granted
If you need to include third party copyright material in your thesis and are unable to obtain permission or are asked to pay to do this you will not be able to make the full version of the thesis publicly available online. You need to select the option on the Thesis Access Declaration form to restrict access to the electronic version of your thesis because of copyright restrictions. However, you are still required to deposit an electronic copy of your thesis which will be held securely.
When you come to deposit your thesis you have two options:
1. Deposit two copies
i) The full version with all third party copyright material retained. This version will not be made publicly available; and
ii) An edited version excluding the third party copyright material for which you do not have permission. This will be made publicly available.
2. Deposit just the unedited version
Please note that the print version of your thesis will be the full, unedited version. This will be available for consultation in the Library unless you specify that the print should be restricted for any other reason. For more information please see our guidance on .
See Thesis Format page for information on how to create an edited version of your thesis.