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Copyright Information for Theses and Dissertations Publication

Navigate copyright requirements related to publishing your thesis or dissertation


When you are unable to obtain permission to use third-party material in your thesis or dissertation, you can replace the material with a different work for which permission is either obtainable or not required.  Permission free alternatives include materials found in the public domain, and materials  with Creative Commons licenses

Public Domain

Copyright does not last forever; when copyright expires, the work is considered to be "Public Domain". Material that is in the public domain does not require copyright permission as long as it is properly cited. The general rule of thumb for public domain in Canada is 50 years after the death of the author (likely to soon be 70 years), but there are exceptions to this. 

After copyright expires, and a work becomes part of the “public domain”, it can be freely copied, distributed, adapted and performed without having to request permission from the author or having to pay any royalties.

The public domain should not be confused with works that are publicly available. Many publicly available works are protected by copyright. 


Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit that offers an alternative to copyright licenses. It provides licenses that allow you to make and use created works with varying degrees of openness. There are a variety of different creative commons licenses, and not all of the licenses allow for commercial use of the work. It’s important to verify the details of the license and make sure you follow all listed stipulations before using the material. 

This video explains Creative Commons in more detail.

For more information on Creative Commons, visit the RRU Copyright Office guide on Creative Commons and other permission free alternatives.