There are several important issues related to copyright for students:
- obtaining written permission from copyright holder(s) for material included in your thesis/dissertation;
- ensuring that your work is protected as part of your degree program; and
- granting a license to Athabasca University and Library and Archives Canada to make your work available for use by others.
In conformity with the Copyright Act and the National Library Guidelines, there must be no substantial amount of copyrighted material in the thesis. Under the Copyright Act, a reasonable extract of another person’s work can be included in the thesis. If the quote is more than this extract, written permission must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). A copy of the permission from the copyright holder(s) must be given to the student’s supervisor and included in the appendix of the thesis. A template for requesting permission from the copyright holder(s) is located on the FGS website, Permission to Use Copyrighted Material in a Master’s/Doctoral Thesis (PDF - 30.55KB).
Furthermore, if the thesis contains a chapter (or chapters) that the student has published as a journal article or as part of a book, permission must be obtained permission from the copyright holder(s) (i.e. publisher) to include the material in the thesis. Also, inform the publisher about the Theses Non-Exclusive License you have signed with Library and Archives Canada
If part of the thesis was written in conjunction with another author (or authors), a statement from the co-author(s) permitting the inclusion of the material in the thesis must be obtained. This ensures that the work of all persons who have contributed to the theses is duly recognized. Inform the co-author(s) that you have signed a Theses Non-Exclusive License that authorizes Library and Archives Canada to reproduce, communicate to the public on the Internet, loan, distribute or sell copies of your thesis, among other things.
In all cases permission to use copyrighted material must be included in the appendix of the thesis.
For more information on the National Library guidelines refer to their website.
Limited reproduction of copyrighted work without permission is permitted under the Canadian Copyright Act for the purposes of research and scholarship.
Athabasca University has a Fair Dealing Procedure to help you determine whether or not it is necessary to obtain copyright permission:
This tool may also help inform your decision to seek copyright permission:
Obtaining Copyright Permission
Acquiring letters of copyright permission takes a considerable amount of time. Students requesting such letters should do this well in advance of the submission of the thesis. Students are to use the template letter when requesting copyright permission, Permission to Use Copyrighted Material in a Master’s/Doctoral Thesis (PDF - 30.55KB).
A copy of the letters of copyright permission should be submitted to the supervisor for their records and placed as an appendix in the thesis. When letters of copyright permission cannot be obtained the student has two options:
- Omit the material for which they cannot obtain copyright permission; or
- “blank out” the specific material and explain; that the material involved has been removed because of copyright restrictions; what information the material contained; and the original source of the material (e.g. page 12 has been removed due to copyright restrictions. The information removed was Figure C (describe the figure information and source).
Declaration regarding use of Copyright Material in the thesis/dissertation
For all students, whether master’s or doctoral, the Thesis/Dissertation Copyright Declaration. form must be completed by the student and a final copy of the thesis/dissertation must be sent to FGS. Failure to complete this form may result in a denial to graduate. The form will be kept in the FGS records.
Student Copyright Protection of Thesis/dissertation
The student, as author, retains the copyright to their thesis/dissertation, whether it is in electronic or paper (hard-copy) form. Under the Canadian Copyright Act legal rights are automatically attributed to the student as author and the work may be used within the fair dealing provisions without the work having a copyright symbol or obtaining permission. However, the copyright symbol is often included on the title page of the thesis so that the person to contact for permission is clear if the intent to use the work falls outside of fair dealing provisions. This is why the copyright symbol is included on the title page of theses/dissertations.
Students may choose to use the copyright symbol on their title page or release the thesis/dissertation under a Creative Commons (CC) License and use the CC license symbol on the title page. This is because obtaining permission to use the work outside of the fair dealing provisions can be cumbersome. If the student chooses to release their work under the CC license they are communicating consent to permit uses that are more generous than those allowed under Canadian Copyright Law. The Creative Commons movement has grown in the spirit of open access and global information sharing. As the author, the student still retains ownership of the material and the work still has to be acknowledged, but the work can be more easily shared.
When completing the Thesis/Dissertation Copyright Declaration form students are required to do two things:
- declare if any copyrighted materials have been used in the thesis, and
- indicate if their thesis/dissertation will be released under copyright (©) or released under the Creative Commons license (cc).
The student should then indicate on the title page (see the Thesis/Dissertation template) the appropriate symbol based on their choice. Information on the CC options are available on the website above. That way when a reader accesses the thesis/dissertation on the DTheses website, they will know which options for licensing the graduate has chosen.
The options for how this information should be displayed on the title page (similar to the options on the declaration form) are:
© Student Name (means copyrighted and not released under CC Attribution License)
(cc) by 2019 Student Name (means fully released under CC Attribution License)
(cc) by SA 2019 Student Name (means Share alike under CC Attribution License)
(cc) by ND 2019 Student Name (means No-derivatives under CC Attribution License)
(cc) by NC 2019 Student Name (means Non-commercial under CC Attribution License)
Students should indicate one of the above options on the title page.