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Copyright: Research

This guide provides information on copyright infromation, and the reuse of third party materials.

Copyright and research

When disseminating research and scholarly outputs it is important to take account of copyright legislation, and ensure that you work within the licences or conditions imposed by publishers and funding agencies. This applies to the production of all scholarly works including PhD theses, articles, books and chapters.

Protecting your work

When producing something for publication, the publisher will usually ask for evidence that you have permissions from the copyright holder of any third party copyright materials you have used in your work. This will include any diagrams, maps, photographs or images. They may also ask you to sign an indemnity form which removes any liability from them. 

Instances where you do not need copyright are:

  • if you are reviewing material,
  • if you are critiquing material,
  • short quotations, as long as they are correctly cited,
  • if the work is under a licence which permits reuse for commercial purposes, such as a Creative Commons CC BY licence
  • if the work is out of copyright, usually 70 years after the death of the author. Where works are unpublished you must always seek permission. 



The Copyright of your doctoral thesis usually belongs to you as the researcher and author of the work, however, you may wish to use third party works in your thesis, including illustrations, graphs or photographs. 

If you wish to publish your thesis, you must obtain permission from the rights holder to use these materials in your thesis, and you should be aware, that publication also includes making a digital copy available through a repository such as OARS.

If you are unable to secure the permissions of the known copyright holder, third party materials should be redacted from the published document. It is good practice to seek these permissions prior to submission.

Seeking third party permissions

Before you publish any work containing any third party copyright materials you must have permission from the rights holder to reuse their materials in your work.

If you can not secure permissions to reuse third party copyright materials from the rights holder you must not use them in any work which will be published, or made publically available. This includes any document you seek to make available via the institutional repository OARS.
Materials with an unknown copyright holder are known as orphan works. In this circumstance, if there is clear evidence of due diligence to trace the copyright holder, materials may be reused for educational purposes. You should be aware, that a copyright holder may ask for their work to be removed from any other work at any time, and you must comply. Information on due diligence and orphan works is available from the Intellectual Property Office.
Copyright on your work is automatically applied, you do not need to register it, or mark it as copyrighted. You should remember that copyright applies to works - not ideas.
Creative Commons licensing permits the sharing and reuse of works with particular conditions attached to them. If you produce and share your work through Creative Commons you should use a tool to help you choose which version of the licence you wish to apply. You will need to consider questions such as if you wish to permit commercial reuse, and if you wish to allow derivatives of your work.