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Copyright and Fair Use

An overview of copyright, focusing on re-using other people's works in academic contexts

Copyright & Your Thesis or Dissertation

As a graduate student, you likely hold copyright to some or all of your research.  Use the resources below to learn more about your rights and responsibilities.  You will likely need to incorporate pieces of other people's copyrighted works into your research. Use the fair use worksheet to help you decide when to ask for permission.

Author Rights

decorative photo of a hand holding a pen.As a creator, copyright concerns you in (at least) two ways:

  • You may want to integrate others' copyrighted work into your own.  You (and possibly your publisher) can do a fair use analysis to determine if you need to ask for permission.
  • You may be concerned about maintaining rights over your work, or letting other people use it in certain ways.  You do not need to register copyright: it applies the instant you put a work in tangible form.  You can, however, transfer your copyright to other parties - such as publishers - so read any agreements carefully.  If you want to retain some rights over your work but allow certain types of re-use, check out Creative Commons licenses.

OSU Open Access Policy & Faculty Research

In the print paradigm, it was common practice for faculty to sign their copyright over to publishers who then distributed the work.  As it becomes easier to distribute material online, this is changing.  In 2013, Oregon State University Faculty Senate unanimously passed an Open Access Policy.  One direct result of this policy is that OSU faculty retain copyright to articles published after the policy was passed. This means OSU faculty can distribute the accepted manuscript version (post peer review, pre publisher formatting) of their articles from their own web sites, deposit them in repositories (such as ScholarsArchive@OSU and PubMed Central), use them in their classes, and develop derivative works.

Modifying Publisher Agreements

Learn More: Creative Commons

Image Credits

"pen and paper" by Lucas. Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.