Copyright affects the author of a thesis or dissertation in two ways: 1) As a user of copyrighted material within the thesis or dissertation and 2) As the copyright owner of the thesis or dissertation.
In addition to the general resources for all authors on the Getting Started, Using Copyrighted Works in Scholarship and Copyright Considerations for Authors tabs on this guide, this page includes information and resources that address common copyright concerns of authors of theses and dissertations.
KU Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright is happy to assist KU faculty, staff, and students with questions concerning copyright and fair use of copyrighted materials, in consultation with the KU Office of the General Counsel as needed. Contact us at email@example.com for assistance.
In some disciplines, it's common to include entire articles that were published previously solely by the author or sometimes with co-authors as chapters in the thesis or dissertation. In the case of co-authored material, each co-author has full copyrights to the entire work, unless there are contractual reasons why this is not the case, such as when an author is an employee of a project that claims copyright in any publications resulting from the research funded by the project. The issue is that most article publication agreements transfer the author's copyrights to the publisher. This gives the publisher control over how the work is used and distributed. This means that authors may not have the rights to include their previously-published work as chapters in their thesis or dissertation without asking permission from the publisher first.
There's a handy list of publishers and their default policies at the bottom of the Copyright Concerns of Graduate Researchers resource.
The author will need to ask the publisher for permission to reuse the article. See Asking for Permission, below, for some tips.
One of the graduation requirements at KU is the completion of the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Release Form. In the Copyright section of that form, you will certify that your work does not, to the best of your knowledge, infringe upon copyrights owned by someone else, through, but not limited to plagiarism, unapproved reproduction of materials or improper citation.
Generally, an author has the copyrights to their thesis or dissertation from the moment that it is fixed in a tangible format, such as a Microsoft Word file, or a printed copy.
As part of the ProQuest submission process, authors can choose to register their copyright with the U.S.Copyright Office. We generally suggest that people register their copyrights if they can afford to do so.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office publication Copyright Circular #1, pg. 7, there are several reasons why authors should register their copyright:
Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. (Copyright Circular #1, pg. 7)
One of the decisions that the author of a thesis or dissertation must make as they prepare to graduate is whether to delay the release of the thesis or dissertation for a period of time after graduation. This decision is often a balance between the need to make the work as visible as possible, and the desire to protect the work because the author wants to publish that research in journal articles or books, because of pending patents, or because the research is sensitive.
If an embargo is needed, KU's Embargo Policy for Theses and Dissertations spells out the circumstances under which an embargo may be requested and the process for doing so.
Embargoes may be renewed before the expiration date by filling out the Embargo Renewal form for the KU ScholarWorks copy AND contact ProQuest at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1-800-521-0600 for the ProQuest copy at least one month before the embargo expires.