If you want to include material that you did not create in your thesis or 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students must sign a declaration and licence stating that their thesis or 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 or 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 see Copyright infringement of UM copyright guidelines for more information.
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 or 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 or 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 or 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.
Students sometimes ask the Copyright Office whether they are permitted to include materials in their thesis or practicum using a Copyright Act exemption like fair dealing. While the Copyright Office can provide information and guidance to help enable students to make copyright decisions, it cannot provide legal advice or a definitive answer to whether a use is fair because this is ultimately a legal decision that only a Court can make. Since students choose material to include in their thesis, it is also the students’ responsibility to decide how to clear the use of copyright protected materials they did not author.
The Copyright Office website has a lot of information about Fair Dealing and other exemptions, but it is important to remember that the UM Copyright Guidelines apply specifically to staff and instructors making copies for teaching and educational purposes and may not directly apply to use in a thesis or practicum.
If you have any questions about including copyright protected materials in your thesis, please contact the Copyright Office.