Theses: Copyright

Managing copyright in your research

As the author of your thesis, it is your responsibility to seek clearance or permission if your thesis contains material subject to copyright.

To help you manage this process, please refer to UniSA's Thesis Toolkit, which includes the following information:

  • Managing copyright in your research
  • Using copyright-protected works in your research
  • Copying a 'reasonable portion'
  • Checklist for using third party content
  • Checklist for seeking permission
  • Sample permission letter
  • Copyright material log
  1. Have you ensured that you have used all copyright material included in your research in accordance with the terms of either:
    • an express permission granted by the copyright holder
    • a particular licence or contractual agreement
    • other applicable exemptions within the Copyright Act?
  1. Have you obtained a written agreement from the copyright owner, with the details of the permission granted?
    • If yes, make sure you have not done anything with the copyright material which goes beyond the scope of the permission you have obtained.
  1. Have you acknowledged the copyright material appropriately in your research (i.e. suitable author attribution and publication/source citation details)?
  1. Have you done anything to the work which could have an adverse effect on the author’s honour or reputation, such as altering, mutilating or distorting the work?A photo of a hand writing a checklist.
  1. Have you kept a record of any permissions/licences used or obtained? You can record this information in the Thesis Toolkit's copyright material log.
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Researching and writing your thesis

The Australian Copyright Act contains provisions which allow you to use limited amounts of copyright material for a limited number of prescribed purposes, without the permission of copyright owners.

These provisions are referred to as the Fair Dealing provisions. You will be relying on these provisions when researching and writing your thesis:

  • to protect any work you create
  • to reproduce other people's work in your research.

In relation to your thesis, the Fair Dealing provisions for Research or Study and Criticism or Review apply only to the writing and submitting of your thesis for examination, not to the subsequent publication of your thesis through UniSA's Research Outputs Repository.

Your questions answered

Still have a question? Visit the UniSA Copyright website, or contact Ask the Library.

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Requesting permission

To reproduce anything more than a short quote or extract, you will generally require permission from the copyright owner. This is usually the creator or publisher of the work.

Most publishers will require you to obtain permission to reproduce copyright works (e.g. diagrams, charts, photographs, images, journal articles or book chapters) in your thesis.

This table is a list of initial contacts for assistance with seeking permission:

Type of work Initial contact point
Published book or journal article Publisher
Unpublished work Author
Artistic work (including photographs) Creator
Films, videos and TV programs Publisher
Music (scores and notated music) Publisher
Recorded music Record company

If the work you wish to reproduce has been published by one of the major publishers (e.g. Elsevier, Wiley, Springer), you will generally be directed to seek permission through the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC).

This is a relatively quick and simple process, usually resolved in minutes. Many publishers will permit you to include copies of your own work in your thesis gratis.

To seek permission via the CCC:A screensnip of an example of a permission request link.

  1. Locate the publisher page for the publication containing the content you wish to reproduce.
  2. On that page you will usually find a permission link, which will direct you to the CCC's online permission request form.
  3. To request permission, follow the prompts on the form.

As part of the process, you may be asked to set up an account. This is also a relatively quick and simple process.

When submitting you thesis, ensure you include a copy of the licence agreement and acknowledge the work.

The MIT Libraries' Thesis content and article publishing page has a useful list of journal publisher policies, including:

  • policies regarding graduate students' reuse of their previously published articles in their theses
  • policies on accepting journal submissions that first appeared in an author’s previously released thesis.
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