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How to Post an Electronic Theses (eTheses): Copyright Clearance

Guide lists all the steps one needs to follow when posting an e-Thesis to BU's Open Access Repository (IRBU)

Copyright issues to Consider as you prepare your Thesis

Your Thesis is a publication of your research.  The publication is covered by copyright. So are any stand-alone substantial items you may have created or used, such as photographs, tables, diagrams, figures, maps, poems, rraphics and images.

Any thesis consisting solely of the author's / performer's  research / creations are clear for open publication provided (1) you have not signed away your copyright to another (e.g. publisher, funders, etc.) and (2) you do not have a co-creator/ co-performer who also owns any of the content in your work.

If these conditions are met, you can proceed to the next step by signing a Thesis / Practicum Copyright License and Declaration.

How to Proceed if you Use other's Materials

In the likely event that you do in fact use a substantial amount of other people's work in your Thesis, you must take steps to ensure it is allowable under copyright.  Modifying or adapting a work also requires you to guarantee that usage is allowed.

As a starting point check:

1. Is the item(s)  used in the Public Domain?  They will be if  Copyright has expired

Items in the Public Domain can be used as copyright no longer applies.

2. Has the Author / Creator  published / released the item using an Open License (such as Creative Commons) that allows for Distribution?  If so:

What type of Distribution? (i.e. for Commercial or Non-Commercial uses)

Have you created a Derivative Work by Adapting or Remixing a work?  If so check to see the work is issued under a Creative Commons License that allows for this.

To learn more about specific usages see the Creative Commons About the Licenses site.

If allowed by the License, you are free to use a substantial part of someone else's copyrighted work.

3. Do the item(s) used fall under Fair Dealing? 

If your usage of a material is deemed to be Fair, then you can use the item in your Thesis.

4. Are you able to obtain permission to use the material from the Copyright Owner?

In this instance you will need to know who in fact owns copyright.  The author or creator often does but may have assigned it to someone else such as a publisher, funder, or even an heir in a Last Will and Testament.  If you can contact the owner, permission is often granted.  If granted you can use the item in your Thesis but remember to retain a copy of the permission.

5. Are you able to link to an item on the Internet?  If so, include a link to the item you are citing  - instead of the actual object.

This will enable you to use the actual item without obtaining copyright permission.

6. Is there an alternative image, chart, etc, that you can use according to steps 1-5? 

Use if copyright restricts usage of one item but you can make do with another (e.g. an alternative image).

Often you can find a way to use materials in a Thesis via one of the above mentioned approaches.  If none apply, copyrighted materials cannot be included in the Thesis.

If you are able to use the above provisions to properly use other's publications / creations, you can then proceed to sign a Thesis / Practicum Report Copyright Clearance and Declaration License as your next step.


Public Performance Rights

Music Students required to do a Public Performance for their Graduate Thesis need to understand an additional Intellectual Property issue: Performance Rights.  In particular, a performance needs to consist of clearance for the original music score, adaptations and the performance itself.

Adaptations and Copyright

Scores that are adapted by someone who has NOT been dead for 50 years, have their adaptations protected by copyright - even if the original composer has been dead over 50 years.  Consequently, it is important that copyright be applied to both the Original Composition and Adaptation.

Fair Dealing and Public Performances

Unlike a quote or paragraph taken from a copyrighted publication,  the public performance of an entire piece of copyrighted  music does not allow for Fair Dealing under the law unless it is for Educational Purposes (see 29.5 Copyright Act).  This means that any copyright protected performance done for educational reasons is deemed Fair PROVIDED that "they are done on the premises of an educational institution for educational or training purposes and not for profit, before an audience consisting primarily of students of the educational institution, instructors acting under the authority of the educational institution or any person who is directly responsible for setting a curriculum for the educational institution"  As such you are allowed to perform your copyrighted works as part of your education BUT the university is not allowed to broadcast any copyrighted works via the Internet for the purposes of Open Access, unless licensed to do so by a copyright collective such as SOCAN.

As it now stands the university does not make student performances available via Open Access.  Instead, the university will retain a copy of the performance in its Music Library; as well as catalog the performance so as to enable others to learn about it via Google Scholar and Worldcat.


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Carmen Kazakoff-Lane
Carmen Kazakoff -Lane, Scholarly Communications Librarian
John E. Robbins Library - ( LB 2-19 )
270-18th Street
Brandon, Manitoba
R7A 6A9

Ph: (204) 727-7483

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