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Scholarly Communication


Third party copyright in your e-thesis; what do you need to seek permission for?

If your e-thesis is made available online, it is considered a published work in terms of copyright. This means you must seek permission for some of the third party copyrighted material that you are able to include in your hardbound thesis without clearance. The list below gives specific advice on what you do and do not need to seek permission to include in a thesis that is released online in the Apollo repository.


Q. Short text quotations from books

You do not need to seek permission if the quotations are within the boundaries of fair dealing.

Custom and practice in academic publishing suggests that for the fair dealing purpose of criticism or review (not merely illustration), short extracts of text from a single published non-fiction work with full citation may be reproduced without formal permission if not greater than 400 words in a single quotation, or up to a total of 800 words in a series of short quotations, none of which is longer that 300 words.

Q. Short quotations from journal articles, fiction works, newspapers and magazines

You do not need to seek permission.

Single text extracts of less than 100 words or up to 300 words in a series of short quotations with full citation may be reproduced without formal permission.

In addition to the above text limits, the following Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) Publishers/ Professional & Scholarly Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers (PSP) have agreed that from their journal titles a maximum of two figures (including tables) from a journal article or five figures from a journal volume may be used without permission, unless a separate copyright owner is identified in such a figure, in which event permission needs to be obtained from that owner:

  • AIP Publishing
  • American Chemical Society
  • BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
  • Elsevier
  • Institute of Physics
  • International Union of Crystallography
  • John Wiley & Sons (including Blackwell)
  • Oxford University Press journals
  • Portland Press Limited
  • Royal Society of Chemistry
  • SAGE Publications
  • Springer Science+Business Media
  • Taylor & Francis

International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (stm)  ‘Guidelines for Quotation and Other Academic Uses of Excerpts from Journal Articles’ (January 2016) (enter ‘Guidelines for Quotations from Journal Articles’ in Document Library search).

Q. Extracts from material licensed/released by its copyright owner on terms that explicitly allow your intended re-use without making specific permission requests

You do not need to seek permission.

This applies to all types of copyright works, for example, reproducing an extract from a literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work, sound recording or film released by its copyright owner(s) under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY Licence), or a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial Licence (CC BY-NC Licence) or the UK Government’s Open Government Licence, or on website or other platform terms that permit reproduction in your dissertation.

Q. Out-of-copyright material

You do not need to seek permission.

If copyright no longer subsists in a work, it is said to be in the ‘public domain’ and no permission is required to copy or use that work or quotations, extracts or excerpts from it, but the source must be acknowledged.  Please note that ‘out-of-print’ works are not necessarily out-of-copyright.

The National Archives provides copyright duration charts for UK literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works at: .

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) provides UK copyright duration information for sound recordings, films and the typographical arrangements of published literary, dramatic or musical works at: .

For more detailed guidance for ascertaining the duration or term of copyright of a work and for foreign works – (Raven access).

Q. Long quotations

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Quotations beyond the fair dealing limits set out in 'Short text quotations from books' and 'Short quotations from journal articles, fiction works, newspapers and magazines' require formal permission from the copyright owner.

Q. Figures, illustrations, charts and tables, maps

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Most academic publishers insist that fair dealing provisions do not apply to illustrations or figures, since each illustration or figure is treated as a separate copyright item, and therefore any reproduction requires formal permission from the copyright owner of the item.

Exact reproduction of a previously published figure requires permission.

Permission is needed from the copyright holder if you are adapting or redrawing a previously published figure, e.g. copying the figure and replacing some data.

Redrawing a previously published figure entirely, i.e. creating a new and unique figure with new data, does not require permission.  Any source data or factual information must be credited.

If difficult to assess whether your use is an adaptation or a new figure, the default position must be that if you begin with a figure from another publication, it is an adaptation and permission must be obtained.

Q. Photographs

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

The government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has suggested that ‘fair dealing for the purpose of quotation’ may not necessarily apply to photographs, as any use may conflict with the copyright owner’s photographer’s normal exploitation of the work.  Whilst ‘fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review’ may apply, in light of the IPO caution, obtaining formal permission to reproduce another’s photograph in your dissertation is advised.

If using your own photographs or videos, you need to obtain consent from individuals who feature in the photographs or videos and from location owners for your photography or filming of objects on location.  If your photography or filming is of artwork located at museum or gallery, please refer to the following section.

Q. Images of artwork/illustrations from museums, galleries

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Permission is required for reproduction of artwork (paintings, sculptures, etc.) from its source.  Permission is required for both the artist’s copyright, which may be obtained from the artist, their agent or the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) representing some more prominent artists, and for the photographer’s copyright, usually dealt with by the source of the artwork image, e.g. museum or gallery.

Q. Unpublished material

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

There are no statutory fair dealing exceptions for quoting from unpublished material, including others’ unpublished dissertations.   Which means that you may not use quotations from unpublished works, including for the fair dealing purpose of criticism or review, without the permission of the copyright owner.

To note, unpublished works often have longer terms of copyright than other materials, most in the UK to the end of the calendar year 2039. See Out-of-copyright material.

Q. Sources found on the Internet

You must seek permission. Clear all use or remove the material from the body of the thesis and provide a link instead.

If you decide you need to keep the content imbedded in your thesis, you need to check who owns the copyright in the original work and obtain their permission.

Nearly all material on the Internet and in social media is protected by copyright, including content obtained from websites, blogs, Google Images, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, etc.  You are urged to exercise caution when contemplating use of images or other material found online.  Often images and other material are posted without the knowledge or permission of the copyright owner, yet ignorance of this offers no defence for unauthorised use of copyright material.

Further, taking down offending material upon notice from copyright owners is almost always insufficient to forestall payment to the copyright owner of a licence fee for use of the content and a penalty fee for the unauthorised use or incurring legal action to do so.

However, linking to material that is lawfully available on the Internet should not raise any copyright issues. Ensure that each link opens in a new window and that you acknowledge the source of the link. 

Q. Journal articles written by you

Seek permission from your publisher.

Your publisher may allow re-use after specific embargo periods.  Should you not have your publishing agreement to hand, you will need to check with your publisher to confirm any terms that apply to use of the whole or extracts from the paper in your dissertation.

Nevertheless, if your previously published material contained extracts from other sources, e.g. figures, illustrations, tables or charts, you may need to obtain permissions from the copyright owners to reproduce those items in your online dissertation.

Q. Epigraphs

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Poems

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Song Lyrics

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Music - including sheet music and sound recordings

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Film / Television stills

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Video clips

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Audio clips

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Cartoons

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Software

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

Q. Advertisements and publicity material

You must seek permission. Clear all use.

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