ETDs: Copyright

Current info for Graduate Students about electronic theses and dissertations.

Rights of copyright holders

As the author of your ETD you own the copyright and you make decisions about sharing or relinquishing some or all of these rights.

  1. Reproduction
  2. Modification
  3. Distribution
  4. Public performance
  5. Public display

As of March 1, 1989, the copyright warning does not have to appear for a work to be legally copyrighted. However, it is a good idea to remind people of your copyrights by including:

© 2017 by [your name]

Consider adding statements that grant permission or limit use. See Permissions column on the far right.


Copyright Law: U.S. Code, Title 17, Section 102
original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be communicated
  • Copyright is automatic (no © required)
  • Copyright registration is not required
  • Payment is not required

US Copyright Office
      Circulars and Factsheets
      Copyright Basics (2008)

Why registering your copyright? To possibly receive greater compensation with less documentation when filing an infringement suit.

How? Fees



Permission to use a copyrighted work is NOT required if:

  • Creative Commons license
    • Adding a CC license changes its copyright from “All Rights Reserved” to “Some Rights Reserved.”
  • Facts or ideas
  • Public domain: A work is not protected by copyright and may be freely used by everyone.
  • Fair use: Use someone else's work without permission after you consider ALL 4 FAIR USE FACTORS and the majority weigh in your favor and not in favor of the copyright holder.
  1. Purpose and character of use
  • Commercial or educational use
  • For profit or not
  • Degree of transformation; value added
  • For criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, research

2.  Nature of the copyrighted work

  • Character of the work (consider factual vs. fiction)
  • Worthy of (extensive) protection?

3.  Amount, substantiality

  • Use only what's necessary
  • Quantity and quality in relation to the whole work

4.  Effect

  • Harm tor potential harm to the market of a work after a portion has been used separately from the whole

Fair Use Analyzer Tool

Advice about Signing Agreements with Publishers

Search Sherpa RoMEO  for publishers copyright policies

Sample letter to request permission