Copyright and your Thesis
As the author you own the copyright in your thesis however it’s likely that you’ll also incorporate third party copyright material. This is any material where you don't own the copyright either because you didn’t create it or because you transferred your copyright. For example:
- Tables, graphs, figures, images, text extracts and quotations from published resources.
- Unpublished letters and manuscripts from archival, library and museum collections.
- Journal articles and book chapters where you transferred your copyright to the publisher.
A master copy of your thesis (as examined and passed) must be submitted regardless of any third party copyright material it contains. If this copy contains NO third party copyright material then it can be selected as the open access version. If it does contain third party copyright material then you may need to prepare a separate open access version. The following questions should help you determine if that's necessary and you can record the results in the document attached below.
For third party copyright material which you didn't create
Is the amount of material included substantial?
You can include the material if you’re only using an insubstantial amount. However substantiality can be difficult to determine as it’s based on quality not just quantity. An image, table, graph or figure will always be substantial as they’re considered an entire artistic work. Short quotes or text extracts are more likely to be insubstantial but quality still matters. For example if you were to reproduce an entire abstract this would be considered substantial as it’s an important part even though it would be a proportionally small part of the article.
- Are there any exceptions you can rely on?
You can still include a substantial amount of material if you can rely on an exception contained in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The main exception you may be able to rely on is fair dealing for the purpose of criticism or review. To rely on this the use needs to be genuine, for instance the material would need to be necessary in order to make the criticism or review about the material itself, other material or the underlying ideas and not just included for illustration purposes.
- Can you get permission to use the material?
If the amount of material you are including is substantial and you can’t rely on an exception you may be able to get permission to include the material. First check that the owner hasn’t already given permission in the form of an open license, e.g. a Creative Commons license. If not you can ask for permission from the copyright owner, this is likely to be the publisher or author. The following template has been included to assist you with asking for permission. Please keep in mind that it can take time to receive a response which may be negative and that a non-response cannot be construed as permission.
- Do you need to remove the material?
If you can’t rely on an exception and you haven’t received permission to include the material then you’ll need to remove it from the open access version of your thesis. Replace any material you have removed with a short explanation, for example: [figure/image/text etc.] has been removed due to copyright restrictions
You may also need to remove confidential information from the open access version of your thesis and replace with a similar explanation, e.g. [text/image] removed due to confidentiality.
For third party copyright material which you created (e.g. journal articles, book chapters, conference papers where you transferred copyright to the publisher)
- Does your publication agreement allow you to include the material?
If you’ve kept a copy of the agreement check if it allows the work or a version of it to be included in your thesis. Many publishers list what you can do under a rights retained by the author section of the agreement. If you don’t have a copy of the agreement check the publisher or journal website for this information (look for an author or open access section). While most publishers won’t allow the published version to be included many allow the post-print author accepted manuscript version to be used after an embargo period.
- Can you get permission to include the material?
If the publisher doesn’t specify that you can include the work or a version of it in your thesis then you can still ask them for permission to do so. The following template has been included to help you when asking for permission. Please keep in mind that it can take time to receive a response which may be negative and that a non-response cannot be construed as permission.
- Do you need to remove the material?
If your publication agreement doesn’t allow you to include the work and you haven’t received permission then you’ll need to remove it from the open access version of your thesis. Replace any material you have removed with a short explanation, for example: [article, chapter etc.] has been removed due to copyright restrictions
In the case of published material we’d suggest including a citation with a hyperlinked DOI to the publisher webpage. This will allow access to those with subscriptions.