Electronic Theses and Dissertations - Copyright, Open Access and Publishing FAQ
What is copyright?
Copyright is the law of authorship. Under copyright owners controls the reproduction, distribution, performance and display of their works. They also control the production of derivative works such as translations. A wide range of works can be copyrighted: literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, sculptural works, motion pictures, sound recordings and computer code.
Who owns the copyright of a thesis or dissertation?
The copyright of the thesis or dissertation belongs to the student. Works are automatically copyrighted at the point of creation. If parts of a work have already been published and copyright was transferred to the publisher the copyright of those parts would remain with the publisher.
Do I need to register my copyright?
No, but there are certain benefits of registering. More information from the Copyright Office You may register directly with the Copyright Office for $35 or you can have ProQuest register for you for $55.
Can I legally use the copyrighted material of others?
First you need to determine if the work is copyrighted. Works published prior to 1923 and works of the federal government are in the public domain. You should assume that other works are under copyright. The fair use section of the copyright law allows for limited uses of copyrighted material without the owner’s permission. There is no exact rule on how much of another work one may use as a fair use. In general you do not want to use so much of a work that your work would substitute for the original work. Extensive use of images, audio or video from one person may require permission. ProQuest Guidelines
Can I use previously published articles of my own in my work?
It depends. Assuming that you conveyed the copyright of your work to the publisher you need to see if the publisher allows it. As of Fall 2011 most major publishers indicated on their web pages that a previously published article could be included in a thesis or dissertation. You should be careful about signing publication agreements as you may limit your ability to use your works in the future. More information
How do I get permission?
Most works will be owned by publishers not the author/creator so you will need to identify and contact the publishers. A draft permissions letter is available from ProQuest Contact library staff (http://www.lib.washington.edu/about/contact/) to determine the publisher of a journal and obtain contact information.
Why do I have two agreements to review and sign, and what do I need to understand about them?
UW ETD’s are distributed by both ProQuest and the UW Libraries. Both will make your work available (ProQuest through its Digital Dissertations database and print sales if you choose to allow that, and the UW Libraries through its ResearchWorks service) and preserve it for the future. In return for those services, both ProQuest and UW require you to certify that the work is your own, and that you are not infringing the rights of others. These agreements also provide a mechanism for all parties to recognize your rights as an author.
UW Libraries Agreement
What is open access, and how does it apply to my thesis or dissertation?
Articles, books, theses and dissertations are said to be “open access” when they are “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” By making publications open access, the widest sharing of ideas and research results is made possible, which is generally done either by publishing in open access journals or depositing them in “repositories” like PubMed Central or the Libraries’ ResearchWorks. UW Graduate School policy is for all newly-published UW theses and dissertations to be open access through ResearchWorks, either immediately or after a limited delay. Open Access FAQ
Can I delay or otherwise limit the release of my thesis or dissertation?
Yes. Most students will want to make their theses or dissertations available as soon and as widely as possible, but some may want to delay or limit their release. This is commonly referred to as an “embargo” and may be appropriate when a student wants to allow time to explore publishing part of it in other forms, such as journal articles or a book; it contains material for which a patent might be sought; or it includes other sensitive or confidential information. Embargoes can be placed either on the ProQuest system, the UW Libraries’ ResearchWorks, or both. The default selection in both is for no delay or embargo, with delays of 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years available, and students may petition the Graduate School for an extension at the end of the embargo period in unusual circumstances. It is also possible to restrict access to the ProQuest system and/or to UW users during the embargo period. Graduate School Policy
Will journal or book publishers consider publishing my work if it is based on an open access thesis or dissertation?
Yes. Publisher policies do vary, but a recent study showed that 97% of journals surveyed would consider publishing an article based on an open access thesis or dissertation, and that some 80% of university presses would consider publishing a book based on one In part, this is because most publishers consider theses and dissertations to be “student work” that will require substantial editing and revision before being published in article or book form. Publishers say that they are more interested in the quality of the work and an author’s willingness to edit as needed than they are in whether the work has previously appeared in another form.
What if I have further questions?For information about copyright and fair use contact
Thom Deardorff, Coordinator for Access Services/Libraries Copyright Officer
firstname.lastname@example.org or 206 685-1469
For information about the publishing agreements, embargoes and open access contact
Tim Jewell, Director, Information Resources and Scholarly Communication
email@example.com or 206 543-3890
For patent information contact
Jesse Kindra, Director of Intellectual Property Management
firstname.lastname@example.org or 206 543-3970