Copyrighted or sensitive material in your thesis

You will need to check if you've used other people's work, sensitive information or material of commercial value in your thesis

If you've used other people's work in your thesis

Your thesis may contain material for which you don't hold the copyright, for example:

If you have used this type of material, you need to:

If none of these apply and you can't get permission, you need to redact the relevant sections.

Expired copyright

Copyright expires after a set period of time, after which there are no restrictions on the use of the copyright work. There are many different durations of copyright depending on the type of work

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licences allow you to reuse copyright material without contacting the rights holder for permission. They tell you how you can use, share and distribute the work. Find out more about the meanings of the various Creative Commons terms.

If you are using work licensed under Creative Commons in your thesis, you must credit the original author and check you are complying with all the conditions of the licence

Fair dealing

'Fair dealing' is an exception to UK copyright law. It allows you to use copyright works without the rights holder's permission, if it is reasonable and fair to do so - for example for the purposes of quotation, criticism, or review.

For example, you might want to use a reproduction of a single screenshot from a large website or a low-resolution version of an image.

You need to make your decision on a case-by-case basis. A good test of 'fair dealing' is: would you feel that it's fair for someone to use your work in the same way

Getting permission

To get permission to use copyright material, you need to identify who owns the work (for example the author, photographer or publisher):

Once you've identified the copyright holder, you need to contact them to get permission.

The content of this page has been adapted from the University of Kent copyright guidance that is licensed under CC-BY.