Copyright Guide for Thesis Preparation

What is copyright, and to what it applies

It is your responsibility to follow copyright law. Both this Guide and The Concordia University Libraries Copyright Guide provide general information about copyright to assist you. Neither is intended to be and cannot be construed as legal advice. You can also consult Concordia’s Policy on Copyright Compliance (SG-2).

Taking the time to become informed about copyright is essential in the preparation of your thesis, and will also be valuable to you as a copyright holder. Today’s online environment and the availability of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), through institutional repositories such as Spectrum: Concordia University Research Repository, make information available to a wider audience and benefit research everywhere. This new reality makes becoming knowledgeable about copyright very important for you as an author.

Obtaining copyright permissions from copyright holders can be a very time consuming endeavor. Therefore it is strongly recommended that you investigate copyright responsibilities early in the process of writing your thesis. Copyright should be reviewed even in cases where you are including your own previously published work as it is possible that, despite you having authored the work, you no longer retain copyright in it (see Section entitled Including Your Own Previously Published Work in Your Thesis).

Although proper citation provides acknowledgment for the sources you use, it is not sufficient in meeting copyright obligations.

Copyright protects works from being copied, performed or distributed without the permission of the copyright holder, usually the author or the creator of the work, and provides exceptions for special circumstances.

Copyright automatically applies to original works such as books, articles, videos, music, paintings, photographs, digital works, broadcasts and performances.

The length of copyright is usually seventy (70) years after the death of the creator (see Copyright basics - Duration of Copyright). After copyright expires, a work becomes part of the public domain and may be freely copied and distributed.

Before copying, adapting, distributing or performing a copyrighted work, you need to consider whether:

  • You are using an insubstantial or substantial part of the work.
  • What you want to do may fall under fair dealing.
  • The copyright holder has granted permission or has issued a special license.
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