Obtaining permission to use copyright protected work

Guidance on copyright and how to request rights to use protected work.

On this page

How to go about obtaining permission

  • Contact the publisher directly or look at their website and search for 'copyright' and 'permissions'.
  • Contact the appropriate licensing organisation - there is a list of agencies below.
  • Contact the website owner.
  • Keep a record of all correspondence.

Permission to use a copyright protected work must be sought from the rights holder.

This may not necessarily be the author as published works are often covered by the publisher's copyright. Be aware you may need to obtain permission to use your own work if it has been, or will be, published elsewhere. 

Agencies that operate licensing schemes 

When you have identified the copyright owner, write to them to request permission to include their work in your PhD thesis. The following template provides an example of how you may wish to word your request:

I am contacting you to seek permission to include the following material within the electronic version of my PhD thesis:

[Provide full details of the material you intend to include]

If you are not the rights holder for this material I would be grateful if you would advise me who to contact.

The thesis will be made available within the University of Dundee’s online research repository (discovery.dundee.ac.uk/) and will be harvested by other organisations such as EThOS (ethos.bl.uk).  The repository is non-commercial and openly available to all.

[Reproduced with the kind permission of the University of Warwick Library]

Inform them how the work will be used, i.e. it will be published in the University of Dundee's online research repository. Advise them that the repository is non-commercial and openly accessible online.

  • Provide as much information as you can about the work you intend to use, the name of the author and the title of the work. If the work is a book, the ISBN number, (or ISSN for periodicals).
  • An exact description of the content you wish to include. (Including any title, version, illustrations/images/diagrams, chapter/section/page numbers, start and end points of the extract required, etc.)
  • Include full contact details of the person wishing to use the work, to ensure that you can be contacted in case of any questions.
  • Give assurances that the work will be properly attributed.
  • Provide full details of where the work will be published and how it will be disseminated.

Taken from the UK Copyright Service web site.

If the copyright owner does not respond to a request or cannot be located you have not obtained permission and you should not publish the material in your thesis.

  • More information on copyright and intellectual property rights.

What to do once you have permission 

When you have received permission from a copyright holder to use their material you should indicate, at an appropriate point within the thesis, that it has been reproduced with their permission and provide their details. Any correspondence with the rights holder should be submitted to the LLC electronically along with your thesis during the submission process. For more information on how to submit follow our step-by-step submission guide.

What type of access should you choose? 

If you are unable to obtain permission from a copyright holder to use information you must still submit the final version of your thesis, to remain under embargo. An abridged version can also be submitted, with the third-party material removed; it is this abridged version that can be made available through Discovery. 

How to create an abridged version

For the abridged version remove the material restricted by third party copyright and insert the following statement "Photo (table, diagram, illustration etc) has been removed due to Copyright restrictions."