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Rights clearance

If you have established that an item of third party copyright requires clearance either to be included in your e-thesis, or to be displayed in your thesis open access you will need to obtain permission from the rights holder. Seeking permission from copyright owners to reproduce their work in your thesis is a relatively uncomplicated process, but it can take some time, so if you wish to or need to make your thesis available in the Apollo Repository you are urged to start with the “rights clearance” process as soon as you can. Any permission you obtain from copyright holders should be recorded in electronic or paper form, so you can prove permission was granted.


Steps to gaining clearance

Identifying the copyright owner

First, you need to identify the copyright owner of the work you are including in your thesis, which is usually identified by the © symbol with the copyright owner’s name next to it. If you cannot identify the copyright holder by this method, you can try contacting:

  1. The publisher  - if the item is published online or in print.
  2. The source - if the item was held by a museum, library or gallery.
  3. The individual - if you are able to find a name attached to the item.

Seeking permission from publishers

If the item has been published online or in print, you can contact the publisher of the work. Often publishers will be able to issue you a licence to publish the item open access provided it remains within your thesis and you do not use the item elsewhere, although this may attract a clearance fee in some cases. The publisher will usually have a Rights and Permissions department you can contact, or in the case of online publishing you may be able to clear material via the publisher's website. If the copyright owner is a commercial publisher or an academic journal, the quickest way of securing permission, often at no cost for inclusion of material in dissertations, is to use the Copyright Clearance Center, you can request permissions via this link.

Also, publishers and academic journals often provide links to CCC’s Rightslink service directly from the page that presents a journal article under  ‘Permissions’ or ‘Rightslink’ information, e.g. Wiley. The CCC's FAQs can be found on this page.

If the publisher or academic journal does not offer permission through the CCC or its Rightslink service, you need to check the publisher’s or academic journal’s website under ‘Permissions’ or ‘Rights and Permissions’ or similar for the publisher’s or academic journal’s preferred method of dealing with permissions requests, where with some publishers you may be required to submit your permission request using a prescribed online form.

Seeking permission from museums, libraries or galleries

When you contact a museum, library or a gallery to clear copyright material, they may or may not be able to to grant permission for you to use the item. The copyright in items that are held in museums or libraries is often held by copyright holders that are external to the library or museum. For example, the copyright in a painting may be held by the artist, not the museum and if you are using a photo of the painting the copyright for the photo could be held by the photographer. If the museum, library or gallery is unable to grant permission for you to use the material, they should be able to direct you to the copyright holder, whom you can approach to obtain clearance.

Seeking permission from individuals

If the copyright owner is an individual or organisation that does not appear to use any collective copyright licensing broker such as CCC or its Rightslink service and does appear to offer permissions information publicly, you need to email or write to the individual or organisation, explaining why you wish to use their work and request permission.  For this purpose you may use the attached form, Permission to Use Copyright Material in a Dissertation, or adapt the information provided in the form.


Paying for rights clearance

Some copyright holders will request a fee in exchange for granting permission for you to use item they hold the copyright for. Your funding body may be able to provide financial assistance for the purposes of rights clearance for your thesis. We recommend you approach your funder as early as possible to explain that you might need this assistance and give them a rough idea of the fees you are likely to have to pay.


Third party copyright and CC licences

If you are licensing your dissertation under a Creative Commons Licence, with third party source material you may have included in your dissertation licensed to you and the Apollo Repository for release in Apollo, it is unlikely the copyright owner giving you permission would wish for their material to be released to the world under the Creative Commons Licence you have chosen for your own work.  To ensure that end-users are aware of this distinction, your release under a CC Licence should be prefaced by the wording ‘Except where otherwise noted, this dissertation is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.' and then specify the type of licence. e.g. CC BY-NC-ND

For further information on marking your work with a CC licence, see the wiki creative commons page.

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