Copyright and Your Thesis/Practicum FAQs

See the Faculty of Graduate Studies Thesis Guidelines for detailed information on thesis/practicum preparation.

University of Manitoba students must submit their thesis/practicum to the University of Manitoba Libraries' online repository, MSpace. Students sign a copyright declaration and licence when uploading their thesis/practicum to MSpace. This FAQ answers the top questions the Copyright Office receives about copyright in theses/practicums.

If you have any questions this FAQ doesn’t answer, contact the Copyright Office at um.copyright@umanitoba.ca or 204-474-7277 for more information.

 

 

Who owns the copyright in a thesis/practicum?

As authors, students are the copyright owners of the original content in their thesis/practicum. Students do not receive copyright ownership in content someone else created by incorporating it into their thesis/practicum—authorization (under the Copyright Act or directly from the copyright owner) for use of someone else's content is required, and copyright ownership typically remains with the original author/creator. Students also have something called “moral rights” (reputational rights, like the right to be attributed as a creator) in their thesis/practicum.

Uploading a thesis/practicum to MSpace does not prevent a student from choosing to share, distribute, publish, or reuse their thesis/practicum provided no other agreement or copyright interest restricts this. Students should also ensure any other uses do not conflict with the permission given to the University to make the thesis/practicum available under the MSpace licence. 

If a student has co-authored any of the material in their thesis/practicum, the other author(s) will also have a copyright interest in the work. Consider obtaining the agreement of any co-authors to use jointly authored material in your thesis/practicum. If you are collaborating with others it is always good to clarify how you may use your joint efforts in future.

Copyright law and research ethics are related concerns, but they can have different requirements. Copyright law distinguishes between ideas (which are not subject to copyright protection) and expressions (the way something is written, drawn, etc., which is subject to copyright protection).  Both copyright law and the Responsible Conduct of Research – Code of Research Ethics Policy require you to provide attribution when using the work of others, but the RCR - Code of Research Ethics Policy also requires you to provide appropriate attribution to others when using their ideas, data, and methodologies and to accurately attribute authorship. It is important to ensure applicable obligations under Copyright law and the RCR - Code of Research Ethics Policy are both met in your thesis/practicum. 

Uploading a thesis/practicum to MSpace does not change copyright ownership, but the MSpace licence does give the University of Manitoba the right to make certain uses of your thesis/practicum.

What is the University allowed to do with my thesis/practicum?

The University can keep, make, and distribute copies of your thesis/practicum digitally or in print on a non-profit basis (cost recovery for printing, but not commercial publication), and make your thesis/practicum available in a publicly accessible online environment (MSpace). Your thesis/practicum may also be given to other organizations (including Library and Archives Canada) for these same purposes.

The University is given these rights for the term of copyright, and includes copyright notices on all reproductions of theses/practicums made under the MSpace licence.

The University of Manitoba’s MSpace thesis/practicum publication practices are similar to those at universities Canada-wide, and aim to expand the body of publicly available research from the University community.

Can I use materials I did not create in my thesis/practicum?

If you want to include material that you did not create in your thesis/practicum (like figures, text, or images), copyright permission may be required from the copyright owner(s). With any material you want to use, even that you located freely online, start from the assumption that it is protected by copyright. Review the Copyright and Your Thesis/Practicum slides for guidance on when permission is needed or send your questions to um.copyright@umanitoba.ca.

Students must sign a declaration and licence stating that their thesis/practicum is copyright compliant prior to uploading it to MSpace. This means that students must ensure any use of copyright protected materials in their thesis/practicum can be done under a Copyright Act exemption, licence, term of use, or with permission. Short quotes from someone else’s work that are appropriately cited do not typically require copyright permissions.

Many copyright holders have online permission forms or processes. Permission requests for many academic papers and texts can be made through the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You may also modify the sample copyright permission letter from the Copyright Office website to email and make your request. All of these are acceptable ways to obtain written permission.

Obtaining permission may take a short amount of time (instantaneous) or a considerable amount of time (several months), so you should take this into account when considering your thesis submission deadline. 

If copyright permission was obtained, include a “Used with permission” statement under the image or text in the thesis/practicum. The permission email or licence provided by the copyright holder should be retained by the student, and does not need to be included in the body of the thesis/practicum or submitted to the University.

In some cases, the copyright holder cannot be located or the cost of obtaining permission is prohibitive. In these situations, the text or image may have to be removed from the thesis/practicum. Instead citation for the text or image can be included so that the reader can locate the content themselves, including a URL if available.

Do I need the University's permission to publish my thesis/practicum? 

No. You remain the owner of the copyright in the original content in your thesis/practicum and can decide whether you want to publish or distribute your thesis/practicum, either commercially or non-commercially, without needing permission from the University. However, other ways you use your thesis/practicum should to be consistent with the rights you grant the University to make your thesis/practicum publicly available. Also remember that different copyright considerations may apply to using someone else’s copyright protected material in a non-commercial research thesis/practicum than in a commercially published article or book. 

What if I want to publish my thesis/practicum (or parts of my thesis/practicum) prior to uploading it to MSpace?

Ensure that the terms of your publishing agreement will allow you to post your thesis/practicum to MSpace. Some publishers are granted copyright under publishing agreements. If you give your copyright to a publisher you may be required to request permission back to include the published article in your thesis/practicum. Under other publishing agreements you may retain your copyright but not be permitted to publish the article in your thesis/practicum until after an embargo period (ex. 6 months to 1 year).  It is difficult to generalize whether publishers will allow you to upload your thesis/practicum to MSpace after publication because publishing agreements differ.  

The SHERPA/RoMEO database can be a useful resource to determine publisher copyright policies, but always review your publishing agreement prior to signing to confirm it will allow you to include your published work in your thesis/practicum. 

What if I want to commercially publish my thesis/practicum after uploading it to MSpace?

Ensure that publishers know that you have already published your thesis/practicum in MSpace and that it is publicly accessible. Many publishers are willing to commercially publish content that was included in a thesis/practicum because the publication process requires vetting, peer review, and editing. The reviewed and edited work can be seen as having a new copyright, making it different from the original thesis/practicum on MSpace. However, students are strongly encouraged to confirm the practices of individual publishers using the SHERPA/RoMEO database or directly rather than assuming all publishers will be agreeable to publishing a thesis/practicum that is already openly available.

Can I restrict access to my thesis/practicum in MSpace?

Students should attempt to ensure that there is no content in their thesis/practicum that prevents it from being made publicly available on MSpace for copyright or publishing embargo reasons. Allowing public access to a thesis/practicum helps students on a reputational level to increase their exposure and the number of citations their thesis/practicum receives.

Restrictions on access may be granted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies in special circumstances, but evidence of the need for a restriction needs to be provided, and restricted access is not guaranteed.

 

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For further details about copyright, attend an information session offered through the GradSteps workshop series. If you have questions that this FAQ didn't answer or need more information, contact the Copyright Office at um.copyright@umanitoba.ca or 204-474-7277.