The copy of your thesis which is examined is covered by a legal examination exception that will permit the reuse of diagrams, images or figures, without risk of copyright infringement. However, this exception only applies to the examined (usually printed) thesis and not the electronic version which is subsequently uploaded onto the repository. Even if you have recreated the original diagrams, in the eyes of the law these are still considered to be copies of the original, even though they are not direct reproductions.
However, you have several options available to you:
- The easiest option is to remove the diagrams from the repository version of the thesis and replace them with a reference to allow the reader to find the original documentation containing the diagram/s etc. In the past, students who have chosen this option prefer to replace the material with an empty text box of the same size to retain the format and pagination.
- The second option is more time consuming but can guarantee that you are not infringing copyright. This is to obtain written consent from the copyright owner. A standard permissions letter template can be found at this link: http://copyright.lboro.ac.uk/copyright/sourcing-images/pdf-advice-factsheets-to-download/ . However, please bear in mind that permission can still be denied. If the copyright owner fails to respond to your correspondence this cannot be seen as implied consent.
- The third option is a matter of judgement. The law allows a certain amount of copying without direct permission from the copyright owner, so it may be possible to include the diagrams in the repository version. For most examples in theses, ‘fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review’ is the appropriate such permission. Unfortunately, the law does not give a step-by-step guide as to what is considered ‘fair’, thus it is not possible to give specific advice as to what can and cannot be done in each particular case. However, it could be said that it is reasonable to assume that if the diagram etc itself or an underlying idea as exemplified by the diagram is being discussed in the text then you are likely to be covered. The more something is discussed, the more ‘fair’ it would be (i.e. half a page of discussion is better than half a sentence).
In order to qualify for fair dealing, the source of the material must be acknowledged by identifying the work and the author. The material should also have been made available to the public. Using material for purely aesthetic purposes or simply describing the diagram etc would not qualify for this exception.
- Or a moratorium, restricting others from full text access could be placed on your thesis. This is less desirable as it restricts others accessing and potentially citing your work.
For more information please contact the University Copyright Advisor:
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