Copyright for theses


The Copyright advice webpages provide a general overview to copyright.

It is vital to consider the copyright position of material where the copyright is owned by a third party. This needs to be done before the submission to Pure to allow time to investigate the copyright position and to take any required actions on the content which will be uploaded to Pure.


Copyright law allows for the quotation from the works of others without seeking permission from the copyright holder for the purpose of criticism or review. The use must be fair and proportionate. The following conditions apply:

  • the work must have been or be available to the public
  • the use of the quotation must be fair dealing
  • the length and use of the quotation must be directly related to the purpose for which it is being used
  • the quotation must be fully acknowledged and referenced

There is no exact legal definition of the number of words or numbers of quotes from the same item that can be legally included within a quotation.

Illustrations, figures and tables

Similar rules apply as for quotation.

Maps and charts

Check the organisation's / publisher's website for information on the copyright / permitted reuse of their maps. Ensure that any extracts are full referenced and acknowledged.


The rules are quite complex so this is general guidance.

If the author of the thesis took the picture, then they are the copyright rightsholder unless the photo is of something of which the rights are owned by someone else eg a photo of a painting in a gallery.

If someone else took the picture, then depending on the age of the photograph, you would normally need to get the permission of the photographer.

Depending on the subject of the photograph, there may need to be consideration if the photograph shows people.

Material from websites

The website must be checked for copyright / licensing reuse information.

Seeking copyright permission

This needs to be done before the thesis is submitted to Pure. When contacting the rightsholder(s), please ensure that it is stated that the thesis will be made available electronically and permanently as Open Access so this can means that anyone can read and download it.

If permission is not granted / a payment is required / the rightsholder does not reply, then it is recommended / required to remove the content from the file, and add a placeholder stating a brief description of the content and then a statement that indicates the material has been removed for copyright reasons. This applies to material in the main body of the thesis as well as any appendixes.


Please email for advice on copyright.