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Copyright information for theses and dissertations publication

Navigate copyright requirements related to publishing your thesis or dissertation

When to seek permission

You should seek permission if your thesis contains third-party materials described in Materials Commonly Used in Theses and Dissertations.

The list in Materials Commonly Used in Theses and Dissertations is not exhaustive. If your use of copyrighted material is not described in the list, that does not mean that you do not need to seek permission. 

If you have any questions about copyright, or if you are unsure the material in your thesis requires permission, please email


Who to Contact for Permission

The first step in the process is to identify the copyright owner. Usually you will be able to identify the owner somewhere within the work by looking for the copyright symbol © - this should have the copyright owner’s name next to it. You’ll often find this at the beginning of a book  or at the bottom of a web page.

Royal Roads University Copyright Permission Letter

When you are asking for permission to use material in your thesis or dissertation, the wording you use is very important. The person granting permission needs to be fully informed of how the material will be used and distributed. To ensure that you don't need to ask for permission more than once, please use the RRU copyright permission letter. Simply asking for permission to use material in your thesis or dissertation without providing all of the details outlined in the permission letter is not sufficient copyright permission.

Permission needs to be 'in writing' - that is, it can't be a verbal agreement.  Permission via email is acceptable, as long as you include the RRU copyright permission letter as an attachment, and the person granting permission states that they agree to the terms and conditions outlined in the letter. They should also include their contact information or signature block.

Obtaining copyright permission can take time. You are strongly encouraged to send out your permission requests as early as possible.

Other Ways to Obtain Permission

Many organizations, including the Canadian Government, receive a large number of copyright requests have their own copyright submission process, such as an online request form. As long as you are careful to apply for the correct copyright permission and provide all of the details from the RRU permission letter, you do not need to use the RRU permission letter itself.

Read the RRU permission letter carefully before filling out any permission applications, and keep the following details in mind:

  • Copies of your thesis or dissertation may be sold, so you must obtain a commercial license.
  • Your thesis or dissertation may be translated into other languages.
  • Your thesis or dissertation may be distributed in print and electronic formats.

Many journals and publishers use to manage their copyright permissions. If you are using material that has been published in a journal or book, check there to see if you can obtain permission online.  Please be careful to read the 'thesis or dissertation' options, as many of these do not allow commercial publication or posting online.

When Permission Cannot be Obtained

If copyright permission cannot be obtained it is possible to proceed with publication by removing the copyrighted material from your thesis or dissertation. The accepted format for this is to remove the figure from your thesis or dissertation, leaving a blank space where it was. In this space the following information is inserted:

  • a statement stating that the material has been removed because of copyright restrictions
  • a description of the material that has been removed
  • a full citation of the original material

Your thesis must be as complete as possible. Removal of material is only acceptable if you are unable to acquire permission to use the material in question.